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ON THE ACCOUNT OT
THE CREATION OF THE WORLD,
AS GIVEN BY MOSES.
I. Or other lawgivers, some have set forth what they considered to be just and reasonable, in a naked and unadorned 'manner, while others, investing their ideas with an abundance of amplification, have sought to bewilder the people, by burying the truth under a heap of fabulous inventions. But Moses, rejecting both of these methods, the one as inconsiderate, careless, and unphilosophical, and the other as mendacious and full of trickery, made the beginning of his laws entirely beautiful, and in all respects admirable, neither at once declaring what ought to be done or the contrary, nor (since it was necessary to mould beforehand the dispositions of those who were to use his laws) inventing fables himself or adopting those which had been invented by others.
And his exordium, as I have already said, is most admi. rable; embracing the creation of the world, under the idea that the law corresponds to the world and the world to the law, and that a man who is obedient to the law, being, by so doing, a citizen of the world, arranges his actions with refe. rence to the intention of nature, in harmony with which the whole universal world is regulated. Accordingly no one, whether poet or bistorian, could ever give expression in an adequate manner to the beauty of his ideas respecting the creation of the world; for they surpass all the power of language, and amaze our hearing, being too great and venerable to be adapted to the senses of any created being. That, however, is not a reason for our yielding to indolence on the subject, but rather from our affection for the Deity we ought to endeavour to exert ourselves even beyond our powers in describing them : not as having much, or indeed anything to say of
our own, but instead of much, just a little, such as it may be probable that human intellect may attain to, when wholly occupied with a love of and desire for wisdom.
For as the smallest seal receives imitations of things ou colossal magnitude when engraved upon it, so perchance in some instances the exceeding beauty of the description of the creation of the world as recorded in the Law, overshadowing with its brilliancy the souls of those who happen to meet with it, will be delivered to a more concise record after these facts have been first premised which it would be improper to pass over in silence.
II. For some men, admiring the world itself rather than the Creator of the world, have represented it as existing with. out any maker, and eternal; and as impiously as falsely have represented God as existing iu a state of complete inac. tivity, while it would have been right on the other hand to marvel at the might of God as the creator and father of all, and to admire the world in a degree not exceeding the bounds of moderation.
But Moses, who had early reached the very summits of philosophy,* and who had learnt from the oracles of God the most numerous and important of the principles of nature, was well aware that it is indispensable that in all existing things there must be an active cause, and a passive subject; and that the active cause is the intellect of the universe, thoroughly unadulterated and thoroughly uumixed, superior to virtue and superior to science, superior even to abstract good or abstract beauty; while the passive subject is something inanimate and incapable of motion by any intrinsic power of its own, but having beep set in motion, and fashioned, and endowed with life by the intellect, became transformed into that most perfect work, this world. And those who describe it as being uncreated, do, without being aware of it, cut off the most useful and necessary of all the qualities which tend to produce piety, namely, provi. dence : for reason proves that the father and creator has a care for that which has been created; for a father is anxious for the life of his children, and a workman aims at the dura. tion of his works, and employs every device imaginable to
• This is in accordance with the description of him in the Biblo, where he is represented as being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.
ward off everything that is pernicious or injurious, and is de.. sirous by every means in his power to provide everything which is useful or profitable for them. But with regard to that which has not been created, there is no feeling of interest as if it were his own in the breast of him who has not cre. ated it.
It is then a pernicious doctrine, and one for which no one should contend, to establish a system in this world, such as anarchy is in a city, so that it should have no superintendant, or regulator, or judge, by whom everything must be managed and governed.
But the great Moses, thinking that a thing which has poter been uncreated is as alien as possible from that which is visible before our eyes (for everything which is the subject of our Benses exists in birth and in changes, and is not always in the same condition), has attributed eternity to that which is invisible and discerned ouly by our intellect as a kinsman and a brother, while of that which is the object of our external senses he had predicated generation as an appropriate description. Since, then, this world is visible and the object of our external senses, it follows of necessity that it must have been created'; 'on which account it was not without a wise purpose that he recorded its creation, giving a very venerable account of God:
III. And he says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time (for it is natural that God should do everything at once, not merely by utteriug a command, but by even thinking of it); but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement; and, of all numbers, six is, by the laws of nature, the most productive: for of all the numbers, from the unit upwards, it is the first perfect one, being made equal to its parts, and being made complete by them; the number three being half of it, and the number two a third of it, and the unit a sixth of it, and, so to say, it is formed 80 as to be both male and female, and is made up of the power of both natures ; for iu existing things the odd number is the male, and the even number is the female ; accordingly, of odd numbers the first is the number three, and of even numbers the first is two, and the two numbers multiplied together make six. It was fitting therefore, that the world, being the most perfect
of created things, should be made according to the perfect number, nanely, six : and, as it was to have in it the causes of both, which arise from combination, that it should be formed according to a mixed number, the first combination of odd and even numbers, since it was to embrace the character both of the male who sows the seed, and of the female who receives it, And he allotted each of the six days to one of the portions of the whole, taking out the first day, which he does not even call the first day, that it may not be numbered with the others, but entitling it one, he names it rightly, perceiving in it, and ascribing to it the nature and appellation of the limit.
IV. We must mention as much as we can of the matters contained in his account, since to enumerate them all is im, possible ; for he embraces that beautiful world which is percep tible only by the intellect, as the account of the first day will show: for God, as apprehending beforehand, as a God mus do, that there could not exist a good imitation without a good model, and that of the things perceptible to the external Bonse8 nothing could be faultless which was not fashioned with reference to some archetypal idea conceived by the intellect, when he had determined to create this visible world, previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God, he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect.
But that world which consists of ideas, it were impious in any degree to attempt to describe or even to imagine ; but how it was created, we shall know if we take for our guide a certain image of the things which exist among us.
When any city is founded through the exceeding ambition of some king or leader who lays claim to absolute authority, and is at the same time a man of brilliant imagination, eager to display his good fortune, then it happens at times that some man comirg up who, from his education, is skilful in architecture, and he, seeing the advantageous character and Beauty of the situation, first of all sketches out in his own mind nearly all the parts of the city which is about to be completed.--the temples, the gymnasia, the prytanea, the markets,