(13) Why it is that he not only describes the situation of the Euphrates, but also says that the Phison goes round all the land of Evilat, and that the Gihon goes round all the land of Ethiopia, and that the Tigris goes toward Assyria? (#Ge 2:14). The Tigris is a very cruel and mischievous river, as the citizens of Babylon bear witness, and so do the magi, who have found it to be of a character quite different from the nature of other rivers; however they might also have another reason for looking on it with aversion. But the Euphrates is a gentler, and more salubrious, and more nourishing stream. On which account, the wise men of the Hebrews and Assyrians speak of it as one which increases and extends itself; and on this account it is not here characterised by its connection with other things, as the other three rivers are, but by itself. My own opinion is, that these expressions are all symbolical, for prudence is the virtue of the rational part of man; and it is in this that wickedness is sometimes found. And fortitude is that portion of the human character which is liable to degenerate into anger. And sobriety, again, may be impaired by the desires, but anger and concupiscence are the characteristics of beasts; therefore the sacred historian has here described those three rivers by the places which they flow round. But he has not described the Euphrates in that manner, as being the symbol of justice, for there is no certain and limited portion of it allotted to the soul, but a perfect harmony of the three parts of the soul and of the three virtues is possessed by it.
(14) Why God placed man in the Paradise with a twofold object, namely, that he might both till it and keep it, when the Paradise was in reality in need of no cultivation, because it was perfect in everything, as having been planted by God; nor, again, did it require a keeper, for who was there to ravage it? (#Ge 2:15). These are the two objects which a cultivation of the land must attain to and take care of, the cultivation of the land and the safe keeping of the things which are in it, otherwise it will be spoiled by laziness or else by devastation. But although the Paradise did not stand in need of these exertions, nevertheless it was proper that he who had the regulation and care of it committed to him, namely, the first man, should be as it were a sort of pattern and law to all workmen in future of everything which ought to be done by them. Moreover it was suitable that, though all the Paradise was full of everything, it should still leave the cultivator some grounds for care, and some means of displaying his industry; for instance, by digging around it, and tending it, and softening it, and digging trenches, and irrigating it by water; and it was needful to attend to its safety, although there was no one to lay it waste, because of the wild beasts, also more especially in respect of the air and water; as, for instance, when a drought prevailed, to irrigate it with a plenteous supply of water, and in moister weather to check the superabundance of moisture by directing the course of the streams in other directions.