(43) Why is it said, “And Noah knew that the waters had ceased from off the earth?” (Genesis 8:11). The literal statement is plain, since if the leaf had been taken up from off the water it would have been wet and soaked, but now he says that it was dry and slender, as if it had become dry by being on the earth which was dried. But with reference to its inward meaning, the wise man takes it as a symbol of repentance, and wishes to check the calamities of excessive obstinacy by taking the leaf, since it was not yet green, but slender, for the reason which has been already mentioned. At the same time we may admire the Father on account of his exceeding kindness, for although corruption had prevailed over all the men who lived on the earth from the excess of their iniquities, still there remained some relics of antiquity and of that which was from the beginning, and a slight seed of previous virtues; by which it is intimated nevertheless that the memory of all the good deeds that have been done from the beginning is not wholly destroyed. On which account a certain prophet, the kinsman and friend of Moses, uttered an oracle of this kind, “If the omnipotent Lord had not left us a seed, we should have been like blind and barren People,”{3}{#isa 1:9.} able neither to know the truth nor to generate it. And the Chaldaeans in their native language call blindness and sterility Sodom and Gomorrah.

(44) Why, in the third place, after seven other days, did he again send forth the dove, which did not again return to him? (#Ge 8:12). According to the word, the dove made no more return to him; but what in fact is meant is virtue, which, however, is not an indication of alienation, since, as I have said before, she was not separated from him at that time, but sent forth like a sun-beam to pay a visit of examination to the natures of others, but then, not finding any one to listen to her precepts of correction, she returns, and properly comes to him alone. But this time she is no longer the possession of one single individual, but is rather a common good to all those who have been willing to receive the emanations of wisdom as if coming up from the earth, those persons, that is, who from the very beginning have laboured under a great thirst of perfect wisdom.