(88) What is meant by the three sons of Noah being named Shem, Ham, and Japhet? (Genesis 5:32). These names are the symbols of three human things, what is good, what is bad, and what is indifferent; Shem is the symbol of what is good, Ham of what is bad, and Japhet of what is indifferent.

(89) Why from the time that the deluge drew near, the human race is said to have increased so as to become a multitude? (#Ge 6:1). Divine mercies do always precede judgment; since the first work of God is to do good, and to destroy follows afterwards; but he himself (when terrible evils are about to happen) loves to provide and is accustomed to provide that previously an abundance of many and great blessings shall be produced. On this principle also Egypt, when there was about to be a barrenness and famine for seven years as the prophet himself says, {9}{#ge 41:28.} was for an equal number of years continuously made exceedingly fertile by the beneficent and saving power of the Creator of the universe. And in the same way in which he showers benefits upon men, he also teaches them to depart and to abstain from sin; that these blessings may not be turned into the contrary. And on this account now, by the freedom of their institutions, the cities of the world have increased in generous virtue, so that if any corruption supervenes subsequently they may disapprove of their own acts of wickedness as extraordinary and irremediable; not at all looking upon the divinity as the cause of them, for that has no connection with wickedness or misery, for the task of the Deity is only to bestow blessings.

(90) What is the meaning of the expression, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, because he is but flesh?” (#Ge 6:3). An oracle is here promulgated as if it were a law; for the divine spirit is not a motion of the air, but intellect and wisdom; just as it also flows over the man who with great skill constructed the tabernacle of the Lord, namely upon Bezaleel, when the scripture says, “And he filled him with the divine spirit of wisdom and understanding.” Therefore that spirit comes upon men, but does not abide or persevere in them; and the Lord himself adds the reason, when he says, “Because they are flesh.” For the disposition of the flesh is inconsistent with wisdom, inasmuch as it makes a bond of alliance with desire; on which account it is evident that nothing important can be in the way of incorporeal and light souls, or can be any hindrance to their discerning and comprehending the condition of nature, because a pure disposition is acquired together with constancy.