But we ought also not to pass over in silence the number ninety as far as it concerns the visible characters. As it seems to me the number ninety is second only to the number a hundred, inasmuch as the tenth part of it, that is to say ten, is taken away, since I see that in the law two-tenths of the firstfruits were set apart, first a tenth of the whole, secondly a tenth of the remainder, for when a tenth of the fruits of the earth, of corn, or wine, or oil, is taken, another tenth is also taken from the remainder; therefore of these two that which is the first and principal one is honoured with the greater share; and in the second place that which follows it, since the number a hundred of the years of the wise man comprises both the first-fruits with which it is consecrated, both the first and the second kind; but the number ninety of the years of the female parent, comprehends the second and lesser first-fruits, namely, the remainder of the first, which is the great one among the sacred numbers. This therefore may be called the first vision in the sacred law which is familiar; and the other has a general character, for the number ninety is fertile; on which account also it happens that the woman begins to bring forth in the ninth month; but the tenth is the sacred and perfect number; and when the two numbers nine and ten are multiplied together ninety is made, as being the virtue of the sacred birth, receiving a fertile generation according to the number nine, and a holy one according to ten.
(57) Why did Abraham say to God, O may this my son Ishmael live before thee? (#Ge 17:18). In the first place, I do not despair, says he, O Lord, of a better generation, but I believe thy promise: nevertheless, it would be a sufficient blessing for me for this son to live who in the meantime is a living son, standing visibly, even though he be not so according to the legitimate blood, but is only born of a concubine. In the second place, that blessing which he is now asking for is an additional one; for he does not entreat for life alone for his sons, but for an especial life in God; and we must suppose that there is nothing more perfect than the rejoicing in the presence of God with a salutary soundness of mind, which is equal to immortality. In the third place, he by a conjecture intimates that the divine law, when heard, ought not to be considered enough if merely heard, but that it ought also to enter more deeply into the inward man, and to form his principal part; for that life is worthy of being beheld by the Deity which is formed in accordance with his word.