(38) Why does he in the second place send forth the dove, and why does he send it forth from himself to see whether the water had ceased, when he uses no such expressions about the raven? (#Ge 8:8). In the first place, the dove is a clean animal, and in the second place it is tame, civilised, and one which associates with mankind, on which account also the honour has been allotted to it of being offered up upon the altar in sacrifices; and on this account the sacred writer, sanctioning this honour and adding the weight of his assertion, has said, he sent it forth from himself, declaring by this expression that it was to see whether the water was abated, he displays the common anxiety felt by both. But those birds, the raven and the dove, are symbols of wickedness and virtue: for the one, whether it is wickedness or the raven, has no house, nor habitation, nor city, being an insolent unsociable bird; but the other, namely virtue, has a regard to humanity, and to the public good: and so the man endowed with virtue sends that bird forth as his ambassador for desirable and salutary objects, wishing to receive from it desirable information; and she, like an ambassador, brings us back genuine pleasure, so that what is hurtful may be guarded against, and what is useful may be diligently and carefully admitted.
(39) Why did the dove, when it found no rest for its feet, return to Noah? (#Ge 8:9). Is not the reason of this evident, and is it not a plain proof that wickedness and virtue are symbolically indicated by the raven and the dove? For behold the dove, which is the last sent out, finds no rest. How, then, could the raven, who departed previously, while the calamity of the deluge was still prevailing, find any place, and make a settlement? For the raven was neither a swan nor an ibis, nor did he belong to the class of aquatic birds. But the sacred writer here points out in an enigmatical manner, that wickedness, when it has gone forth out of doors, to the swelling whirlpools of the vices and passions which overflow and corrupt the soul and life, joyfully admits them, and dwells with and takes up its abode with them, as with its nearest friends and relations; but virtue, turning away with loathing from even the first sight of them, at once springs back, and does not return, scarcely finding rest for its feet; finding, in fact, no standing ground anywhere, and no place worthy of itself. For what other greater evil can there be than this, that virtue should not be able to find in the soul any place ever so small for rest and for abiding in?