(48) Why was it that after the earth was dried, Noah did not depart out of the ark, before he had received a fresh command from God, for God said to Noah: “Go forth, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives, together with all the rest of the living creatures?” (#Ge 8:16). Justice is commonly inspired with fear, as on the other hand injustice is rash and self-confident. But the proof of a fear of God is the not giving up more to, or guiding one’s self more by one’s own reason than by God. And above all other men it was natural for that man who had seen the whole earth suddenly become an immense sea, to suspect that it might be possible that the same misfortune would again return. Besides this, he also gave a thought to the corresponding consequence, namely, that as he had entered into the ark at the command of God, so it was fitting that he should also leave it at the command of the same being; for let no one believe that he can ever do any thing perfectly unless God himself guides him by his preventing precepts.
(49) Why, when they entered into the ark was the order as follows: first himself and his sons, and after them his wife and his sons’ wives, but when they went forth the order was changed, for the sacred historian says, “Noah and his wife went forth, and after them his sons and his sons’ wives?” (#Ge 8:18). By the literal statement the sacred writer gives an obscure intimation, in the order in which they entered, that the propagation of seed was taken away, but by the order of their egress he implies the continuance of the process of generation; since, while they are entering, the sons are mentioned together which their father, and the daughtersin-law with their mother-in-law, but when they are going forth the wives are all mated again, the father being accompanied by his wife, and each of his sons also by his wife, since he chose to show by fact rather than by words everything which it is fitting for his friends to do. Moreover he had in express words, and not by any vague intimations, commanded the men, as they were about to enter into the ark, that they while there were to keep themselves from connection with women; but now that they were about to depart from it, he plainly intimates to them that offspring is to be begotten in accordance with nature, by the order in which he appoints their going forth; nor did he employ words only, in order to make his proclamation about the state of the ark, saying, “After a destruction of all things on earth, of such a character and of such extent, do not indulge in pleasures, for that is not decorous. It is sufficient, however, for you to have received your lives; but while you are actually in the ark, to ascend up into the marriage bed with your wives would be a proof of your being devoted to lasciviousness.” And, indeed, it was natural for them, as being relations to those who were being destroyed, to be moved with compassion for the perishing human race, especially because they themselves also were still in doubt whether, from some quarter or other, calamity might not fall also upon themselves; and besides these considerations it was absurd, while those who were alive were perishing, for those in the ark to be contriving that others who did not exist should be born, being warm at an unreasonable time, and burning with an inopportune desire. But after the anger of God ceased, then he commanded those who had been delivered from the calamity, when they had again gone forth out of the ark in order, to apply themselves to the procreation of a succeeding generation, when he tells us, that the men did not go forth with the men, nor the women with the women, but the wives with their husbands. But with respect to the inner meaning of this fact, we must say this, that when the mind is about to wash off and cleanse away its sins, then it is fit for male to live with male, that is to say, for the intellect, the chief part of the man, to be as a father, united to each separate thought, as a father to his sons, without any admixture of the female race, which is in accordance with the outward sense; since it is a time of battle, in which it is necessary to keep the order of the cohort distinct, and to preserve it strictly in order, that the soldiers may not be mingled in confusion, and so, instead of gaining a victory over the enemy, be conquered themselves; but when the purification is completed, and when the soul is dried up from all ignorance, and when a complete deliverance from everything pernicious has taken place, then it becomes the man to collect his scattered forces together, not in order that masculine counsels may be rendered effeminate by softness, but that the female race, that is to say, the outward senses, may clothe themselves with the vigour of the male, attaining to masculine counsels, and from their receiving seed for the production of a generation; so that, from this time forth they may cherish, in all things, sentiments of wisdom, and honour, and justice, and courage, and, in one word, of virtue. But, besides this, it will be reasonable also to take notice, that when once a confusion, in the similitude of a deluge, has overwhelmed the intellect, and when the different senses, being perplexed by the affairs of this world, like so many bulwarks erected against them, begin to quarrel, it is utterly impossible that any one should be able, either to sow, or to conceive, or to generate any good thing. But when all the hostile attacks of various agitations and passions are checked, and when the ceaseless invasions of lawless counsels are repressed, then the soul produces virtue and excellent works, as the most fertile portion of the earth, when dried, produces fruits.