(3) Why is it that he says, “Take for me a heifer of three years old, and a goat of three years old, and a raven of three years old, and a turtle dove and a pigeon?” (#Ge 15:9). He here mentions five animals, which are offered on the sacred altar; for these are divided into classes of victims, three kinds of terrestrial animals, the ox, the goat, and the sheep; and two kinds of birds, the turtle dove and the pigeon; for the sacred writer constantly tells us that the everlasting reverence of victims derived its origin from the patriarch, who was also the origin of the race: but instead of the expression, “Bring to me,” he has very admirably used the words, “Take for me;” since there is nothing especially and peculiarly belonging to the creature, but everything is the gift of and blessing bestowed by God, who is altogether willing that when any one has received anything he should offer thanks for it with all his heart. But he orders him to take every animal at the age of three years; since three is a full and perfect number, consisting of a beginning, a middle, and an end; but still we may raise the question, why of these three animals, he takes two females, the heifer, and the she-goat, and one male, the ram; may it not be perhaps because the heifer and the she-goat are offered as an atonement for sin; but the sheep is not, as sin arises from frailty, and the female is frail? This much I have thought fit to say with especial appositeness to this question; but I am not however ignorant that all things of this kind offer a handle to those who wish to cavil, to disparage the sacred scriptures; therefore in this instance they say that there is nothing here described and indicated but a command to sacrifice, by the division of the animals and an examination of their entrails; and what is visible in them they affirm to be an indication of what is convenient, and of the similitude which arises from things visible. But those men, as it appears to me, are of that class which forms a part alone from a judgment of the whole, but which on the contrary does not from a judgment of a part from the whole, which last is the better way of coming to an opinion, as being that by which both the name and the fact are altogether established. Therefore the giving of the law, that is to say the sacred scriptures, that I may so express myself, is a sort of living unity, the whole of which one ought to examine carefully with all one’s eyes, and so discern with truth, and certainty, and clearness, the universal intention of the whole of the scripture without dissecting or lacerating its harmony, or disuniting its unity; by any other mode everything would appear utterly inconsistent and absurd, being dissociated from all community or equity. What then is the intention of the delivery of the law as exhibited to us? It is scientific, and so is everything which describes scientific species; since the offering of sacrifice and all science admits of a consistent usage, and of expression well adapted to them, and of various opinions, by which not only the footsteps of truth are occupied, but sometimes are even darkened, as affection is by flattery; but in such way that the very things which are genuine and established by experiment are perverted by things which are both inconsistent and unproved. And the natures of the animals above mentioned have an intimate connection with the parts of the universe; the ox is connected with the earth, as being an animal employed in drawing the plough and in tilling the earth; the goat again is connected with the water (it is called in Greek and Armenian aix, or ajx), being an animal deriving its name from driving and rushing on (from agoµ or aissoµ); since water is an impetuous thing, and the course of rivers, and the extent of the breadth of the sea, and the sea itself agitated as it is by its ebb and flow, are witnesses of the propriety of the name and of the closeness of the connection. And the ram (aries) is connected with the air, as being a very violent and vivacious animal, on which account too the ram is more useful to mankind than any other animal as affording them raiment. Therefore, on account of these reasons, as I think, God orders him first to take these two female animals, the cow and the she-goat; since both these elements, earth and water, are material, and for the most part feminine. But the third he will have a male, namely the ram; because the air or wind has been explained as masculine; since the natures of all things are divided into bodies or into earth and water, and female animals exist by nature. But that which exhibits a similitude to the soul is arranged under the head of air and the breath of life. And this, as I have said, is masculine. If therefore we are to call that masculine which is the moving and active cause we must call that feminine which is moved and passive. But the whole heaven is found to be familiarly connected with flying birds such as the pigeon and turtle dove, being distributed as it is into the rotatory path of the planets and fixed stars. Therefore he dedicates the pigeon to the planets, for that is a tame and domestic animal, as also the planets are more familiarly connected with us as being nearer to the earth, and as having sympathies with us; but he consecrates the turtle dove to the fixed stars, for that animal is a lover of solitude, and flees from the conversation of the multitude, and from all connection of every kind. And so also the globe itself is remote, and a thing which wanders into the furthest extremities of the world. Therefore both the species of these two birds are assimilated to the divine attributes, since as Plato, the disciple of Socrates, says it is fitting that the heaven should have a swift chariot by reason of its very swift rotatory motion, which in fact surpasses even the birds themselves in the velocity of their course. But the birds above mentioned are singers; the prophet indicating by an enigmatical expression that perfect music which exists in heaven harmoniously adapted from the motion of the stars, since it is a proof of human art when the corresponding music of the voices of animals and of living instruments is adapted together by the industry of genius. But this heavenly music has been abundantly extended over the earth by the Creator, as he has also extended the rays of the sun, being always prompt to exercise his beneficent care for the human race. For such music excites frenzy in the ears, and brings unrestrained pleasure to the mind; and so causes men to forget even their meat and drink, and even when hunger brings death to the door to be willing even to die out of a desire to hear music. And if the song of the Sirens, {1}{he alludes here to the description in Homer, Od. 12.39û47 (as translated by Pope)ù”next, where the Sirens dwell, you plough the seas; / Their song is death, and makes destruction please. / Unblest the man, whom music wins to stay / Nigh the curst shore, and listen to the lay; / No more that wretch shall view the joys of life, / His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife! / In verdant meads they sport, and wide around / Lie human bones that whiten all the ground; / The ground polluted floats with human gore, / And human carnage taints the dreadful shore.” And further on in the same book, the poet describes the effect of these songs upon Ulysses, Od. 12.183û194 (as translated by Pope)ù”o stay, O pride of Greece! Ulysses, stay! / O cease thy course and listen our to lay! / Blest is the man ordained our voice to hear, / The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear. / Approach! thy soul shall into raptures rise! / Approach! and learn new wisdom from the wise! / We know whate’er the kings of mighty name / Achieved at Ilion in the field of Fame; / Whate’er beneath the sun’s bright journey lies. / O stay and learn new wisdom from the wise!”} as Homer tells us, invites the heathen so forcibly, that they forget while listening to it, their country, their houses, their friends, and necessary food; how much more must that most perfect and consummate music, so truly heavenly and endowed with the highest degree of harmony, when it touches the organs of the ear, compel men to go mad and to yield to rapture. But the reason on account of which every one of the animals to be offered is to be three years of age has already been explained; and we must now discuss it under another form of mystery, since it has been seen that every one of those things which were called into existence and subsequently to the moon, such as the earth, water, and air, rejoice in an order connected with the number three. In the divisions of earth there is a vast quantity of dry continent, islands and peninsulas. Water is divided into sea, rivers, and lakes; and the air into the two equinoxes, the vernal and the autumnal; and they may be taken as one, for they have an equal proportion of day and night, and accordingly the equinoxes are neither hot nor cold. Add to these the changes of summer and winter, for the sun is borne through those three circles into the seasons of summer, winter, and the equinoxes. Therefore, in the first place, the natural arrangement will be of this kind; and the moral arrangement is properly thus. In every one of us there are three things: flesh, the outward sense, and reason; therefore the calf exhibits a familiarity with the corporeal substance, since our flesh is subdued by, and kept in subservience to, and in connection with the ministrations of life; also their nature is female according to matter, being calculated rather to be passive and to be subject rather than the be active. But the similitude of the she-goat is connected with the communion of the outward senses, either because all the objects of those outward senses are each borne towards their appropriate sensation, or because each impulse and motion of the soul takes place in consequence of an imagination formed of the objects received through the medium of the external senses. And this is followed, in the first place, by a certain inflexion or alienation, which by some is called an occasion, that is to say, an impulse affecting each kind of sense. But since the female is the outward sense, as being passive on consequence of what is subjected to the outward senses, therefore God has adapted to it a female animal, the she-goat. But the ram is akin to the word, or to reason. In the first place, because it is a male animal; secondly, because it is a working animal; and thirdly, because it is the cause of the world, and of the firmament; that is to say, the ram is so by means of the clothing which it supplies; and reason, or the word, is so in the arrangement of life; for whatever is not irregular and absurd immediately exhibits reason. And there are two species of reason; the one derived from that nature by which the affairs of the world subjected to the outward senses are finished; the other from that of those things which are called incorporeal species, by which the affairs of that world which is the object of the intellect are brought to their accomplishment. Therefore the pigeon and the turtle dove are found to resemble these. The pigeon, forsooth, resembles speculation in natural philosophy; for it is a more familiar bird, as the objects of the outward sense are exceedingly familiar to the sight: and the soul of the inquirer into natural science flies upward as if it were furnished with wings; and being borne aloft is carried round the heaven, discerning every part of every thing, and the principles of every separate thing; for the turtle dove imitates that species which is the subject of intellect and incorporeal; for as that animal is fond of solitude, so it is superior to the violent species which come under the outward sense, associating itself as it does with the invisible species by its essence.