(8) Why is it that he says, “Abraham passed over and sat upon them?” (#Ge 15:11). Those who think that sacrifice is indicated by the matters about which we are at present speaking will say that the virtuous man, sitting as it were in a synagogue, has examined into the entrails of the divided animals, as if that were looked upon as an unerring symbol for the declaration of the truth; but we, who adhere to Moses and who are thoroughly acquainted with the views of that teacher, one who, turning away his face from every sophistical appearance and prognostic, trusted in God alone, will rather say, that he has here introduced the just man who is endued with virtue with the birds themselves, who were congregated together and flying about over him, intending to denote nothing else by this parabolical presentation, but that he is desirous of hindering injustice and covetousness, and is most hostile to quarrels and wars, and a lover of consistency and peace; for he himself is truly a guardian of peace. Since no one state has ever rested in tranquillity owing to the conduct of the wicked, but kingdoms have become fixed steadily when one or two men endued with virtue have arisen, whose virtue has put an end to civil disturbances, God granting to those who are earnest in the pursuit of virtue good habits calculated to procure them honour; and not to them only, but to those also who approach near to the production of general advantage.

(9) What is the meaning of the words, “About the time of the setting of the sun a trance fell upon Abraham; and lo, a great horror of darkness came over him?” (#Ge 15:12). A certain divine excess was suddenly rendered calm to the man endued with virtue; for the trance, or ecstacy as the word itself evidently points out, is nothing else than a departure of the mind wandering beyond itself.{2}{ekstasis, derived from existamai, in 2nd aor. act. exesteµn, “I was beside myself.”} But the class of prophets loves to be subject to such influences; for when it is divining, and when the intellect is inspired with divine things, it no longer exists in itself, since it receives the divine spirit within and permits it to dwell with itself; or rather, as he himself has expressed it, as spirit falls upon him; since it does not come slowly over him, but rushes down upon him suddenly. Moreover, that which he has added afterwards applies admirably, that a great horror of darkness fell upon him. For all these things are ecstacies of the mind; for he also who is in a state of alarm is not in himself; but darkness is a hindrance to his sight; and in proportion as the horror is greater, so also do his powers of seeing and understanding become more obscured. And this is not said without reason: but as an indication of the evident knowledge of prophecy by which oracles and laws are given from God.