(49) Why does he order circumcision to be performed on the eighth day? (#Ge 17:12). The number eight has many beauties in it; for it is, in the first place, a cubic number. Secondly, it has beauties, because it everywhere contains in itself the form of equality, because longitude, and breadth, and depth, which are all equal to one another, are indicated by the first number eight. In the third place, the composition of the number eight produces agreement, namely, the number thirty-six, which the Pythagoreans call agreement, since that is the first number in which odd numbers being added together agree with even numbers. If, indeed, four odd numbers from the unit are separately taken and added together and four even numbers beginning with two, they united make thirty-six. Now the odd numbers are these: one, three, five, seven, which make sixteen. And the even numbers are these: two, four, six, eight, which make twenty. And the addition of the two together makes thirty-six, which is in truth a more fertile number. Since it is a square, having each side composed of the number six; the first of which is both odd and even; which some persons most correctly call harmony or matrimony; and it was by the employment of this number that the Creator of the universe made the world, as the holy and admirable book of Moses relates. In the fourth place, the idea of eight produces sixty-four, which is the first number, which is a cube and also a square, being the type of incorporeal substance appreciable only by the intellect and invisible, and also of corporeal substance. Of incorporeal substance, inasmuch as it produces superficies according to the square; and of corporeal substance, as producing a solid according to the cube. In the fifth place, it is always a kindred number to the virgin number seven, for seven makes up the parts of eight; because four is the half of it, two is the fourth part of it, one the eighth of it, and four, two, and one, added together, make seven. In the sixth place, the power of eight is sixtyfour, which we call the first number, being both a cube and a square. In the seventh place, taken separately from the units by these doubled numbers, one, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, the sum makes sixtyfour. And the number eight has also other more distinguished virtues still, which we have enumerated in another place; but now it seems better to explain the principle which corresponds to the present question, and which depends on the grounds now laid down. But in the first place we must premise this: that nation to whom it is enjoined, having the commandments give to it, that it should be circumcised on the eighth day, is called in the Chaldaic language Israel, that is to say, “he that seeth by day.” Therefore God wills, in the first place, that he should be a partaker both of his own just rights, and also of those which exist according to election, and according to the principle of Genesis (or creation), by that first number six, which immediately followed the creation. This number, in fact, the Father and Creator of all things evidently exhibited to the world as the festival of generation, completing the world on the sixth day. And the other number, that which is according to election, he exhibited by the number eight, which is the beginning of the second seven; as eight is seven and one, so the race which has been honoured is always a race receiving that number also in addition, so that it should be elect, both by nature and in accordance with the decree of the Father. In the second place, the number eight exhibits equality everywhere, showing that all its separations are equal, as has been already said, I mean its length, and breadth, and depth. And equality it is which is the parent of equity and justice, by which he shows that the nation which loves God is adorned with equity or justice, and has advanced to complete possession. In the third place, eight is not only a measure of complete equity in all its dimensions, but is the very first number that is so, for it is the first cube; since the number eight indicates equality, and so it has the second and not the first rank: therefore it demonstrates in a symbolical manner that that nature was the first which was ever completely furnished with consummate and perfect equity and justice, and that it is the first nature of the human race, not in point of creation or of time, but in the dignity of virtue, as if justice united with equality were a connatural part of it. In the fourth place, since there are four elements, the appearances of earth, water, air, and fire; fire has received for its figure a shape becoming a similar name, a pyramid; {4}{pyramis, resembling the word pyr, “fire.”} and air has received for its figure an eight-sided one; water, a twenty-sided one; and the earth, a cube. Therefore he thought it necessary that the earth, which was to be the allotment of the race of man, who were endowed with virtue, should participate in the cubic number, as the whole earth has been formed in its figure. And a part of it receives the parts of that which should bring forth, because by nature the earth is very fertile, producing all the various and distinct species of every kind of animal and plant.