(43) What is the meaning of, “Thy name shall not be called Abram, but Abraham shall thy name be?” (#Ge 17:5). Some of those who are destitute of all knowledge of music and dancing, some indeed being wholly foolish and keeping aloof from the divine company, mock the one existing or only wise Being, immaculate by nature, saying, in a tone of vituperation, “Oh the great gift, the governor and Lord of the whole universe has given one letter, by which the name of the patriarch was to be increased and become of great importance, so as to be made a trisyllable instead of a dissyllable!” Oh the great misery, and wickedness, and impiety, of such men! If some persons dare, in any respect, to endeavour to detract from God, being deceived by the outward appearance of a name, when they ought rather to thrust their minds down into the depths, and inquire into the things themselves more closely, on account of the real magnitude and importance of the possession. Besides this, why do ye not think the concession of one letter, although a small and easy gift, nevertheless an act of providence? and why do ye not weigh its value? since, above all things, the very first element of language, as expressed in letters, is A, both in order and in virtue. In the second place, it is also a vowel, and the very first of vowels, being placed above them as their head. In the third place, because it does not belong to long properties, nor to short properties, but it is of the number of those which comprise each characteristic, for it is extended into greater length, and then again it is recalled into shortness, by reason of its softness, resembling wax, and being figured into many shapes, and afterwards figuring words, according to infinite numbers; besides all this it is a cause, for it is the brother of unity, from which all things begin and in which all things terminate. Therefore, when any one sees such great beauty, and a letter set forth with such great importance and necessity, how can he accuse it as if he had not seen this? for if he has seen it, he then shows himself to be a person of insulting disposition and a hater of what is good; and if he has not seen a fact, which is so easy to comprehend, how does he presume to ridicule and despise that which he does not understand as if he did understand it? But however these things may be said by the way, as I stated before. But we must now examine into its necessary and most important task. The addition of the letter A, by one single element, changed and reformed the whole character of the mind, causing it, instead of the sublime knowledge and learning of sublime things, that is to say, instead of astronomy, to acquire a comprehension of wisdom, since it is by the knowledge of things above that the faculty is acquired of mounting up to one portion of the world, that is to say, to heaven, and to the periodical revolutions and motions of the stars; but wisdom has reference to the nature of all things, both such as are visible to the outward senses, and such as are appreciable only by the intellect, for the intellect is the wisdom which gives a knowledge of divine and human things and of their principles. Therefore, in divine things there is something which is visible, and something else which is invisible, and a demonstrative idea. And in human affairs there are some things which are corporeal and some which are incorporeal; to attain to the right comprehension of which is a great task, and a real employment for the abilities and courage of man. But to be able, not only to behold the substances and natures of the universe, but also the principles which regulate each separate fact, indicates a virtue more perfect than that which is allotted to mankind; for it is necessary for the mind, which perceives so many and such great things, to be altogether and wholly eye, and to dispense with sleep, passing its whole existence in the world in a state of incessant wakefulness, and being surrounded by a light which knows no darkness, and which exhibits the appearance of light itself, as by an ever-flashing lightning, taking God for its leader and guide, to the comprehension of the knowledge of those things which are, and to the faculty of explaining their principles. Therefore the dissyllabic name Abram is explained as meaning “excellent father,” on account of his affinity to the knowledge of sublime wisdom, that is, astronomy and mathematics. But the trisyllabic name Abraham is interpreted “the father of elect sound,” being the name of a really wise man; for what else is sound in us, except the utterance of a pronounced word? for which object we have an instrument constructed by nature, passing through the thick tube of the throat, and united with the mouth and tongue; and the father of such a sound is our intellect, and elect intellect is endued with virtue. But if we are to keep to exact propriety, then it is plain that the mind is the familiar and natural father of the uttered word, because it is the especial property of the father to beget, and the word is born from the mind; and it will be a certain proof of this if we recollect that when it is set in motion by counsels it sounds, and when they are absent it ceases to sound: and the evidences of this are the rhetoricians and philosophers who demonstrate its habit by objects; for whenever the mind publishes abroad different heads of designs, and in the manner of a mother about to bring forth produces each individual means previously stored up in itself, then also the word, flowing forth like a fountain, is borne to the ears of the bystander as to its appropriate receptacles: but when those are wanting, then it also is unable to publish itself further, and rests, and the sound is inactive as being struck by no one. Now therefore, O ye men, full and crammed with superfluous loquacity, ye men devoid of wisdom, does not the gift of one single element appear to you to have been such that by the intervention of a single letter the wise man is rendered worthy of the divine attribute of wisdom, than which there is nothing more excellent in our nature? because instead of the sublime erudition of astronomy he gave him intellect, that is to say, instead of a small part of wisdom, he gave him the whole and perfect blessing of entire wisdom, since a knowledge of things above is included and comprehended in wisdom, as a part is included in the whole; for mathematics are only a part. But it becomes you, O men, to consider this point also, that the man who is well instructed and skilful in the investigation of the nature of things above may by possibility be a man of depraved and wicked habits; but the wise man is altogether approved as virtuous. Shall we then now any longer ridicule this gift, than which nothing more excellent can be found? For what is more shameful than wickedness or more excellent than virtue? Can anything be found here not good, and is it not wholly opposed to evil? Or can this gift be compared to riches, or honour, or liberty, or health, or to any other superfluous possession of any kind around or exterior to the body? For the whole of philosophy is thus added to our life as a sort of college of medicine to the soul, in order from thence to dispense to it freedom from suffering and immunity from disease; but in truth it is noble to be a philosopher, and that wonderful knowledge is truly noble; and the end is even more admirable, on account of which the act is called into existence. Here therefore is wisdom, and that the best kind of wisdom, which God called in the Chaldaic dialect Abraham, namely the father of elect sound, giving as it were a definition of a wise man; for as the definition of man is a mortal animal endowed with reason, so also the mysterious definition of a wise man is the father of elect sound.