(24) What is the meaning of the words, “It destroyed every living substance which was on the face of the earth?” (#Ge 7:23). The literal meaning of these words only announces a plain statement of a fact, but it may be turned into an allegory in this manner. It is not without reason that the sacred historian has used the words “a living substance,” for that is characteristic of ambition and pride, which lead men to despise both divine and human laws; but ambition and arrogance do rather appear on the face of our earthly and corporeal nature with an elated countenance and contracted brows. Since there are some persons who come nearer to one with their feet, but with their chests, and necks, and heads lean back, and are actually borne backwards and bend away like a balance, so that with one half of their body, in consequence of the position of their feet, they project forward, but backward with the upper portion of their chests, drawing themselves back like those persons whose muscles and nerves are in pain, by which they are prevented from stooping in a natural manner. But men of this kind it was determined to put an end to, as one may see from the records of the Lord and the divine history of the scriptures.
(25) What is the meaning of the words, “Noah remained alone, and they who were with him in the ark?” (#Ge 7:24). The literal meaning of this is evident; but with respect to its concealed sense we may advance an opinion, that the intellect which is desirous of studying justice and wisdom does, like a tree, discard all noxious shoots which bud forth about it, and rejects all extravagant humours of superfluous vigour, I mean immoderate excess of the affections, and wickedness, and all the effects of such. Therefore he is here said to have been left alone with those of his own kindred, and his kindred are properly all those designs and thoughts of each individual, which are regulated in accordance with virtue, on which account the statement is added “And he remained alone, and they who were with him,” in order to reveal a more genuine joy; but he remained in the ark, that is to say, in the body, because it was purified from every vice and spiritual disease, as the intellect was not yet put in such a condition as to be wholly incorporeal. And on this account also, we must render thanks to the merciful Father, because he received his consort and colleague no longer as one endowed with superior power, but to be subordinate to his own power, on which account also the body is not submerged in the deluge, but rising above the flood is not at all destroyed by the eddies of the cataracts, which a crapulous, libidinous, vanity-loving will, overflowing all things, raises to an eminence.