XXIII. (73) You see that it is not the Lord who is here spoken of as slaying Er, but God. For he does not kill the body in respect of the absolute and irresponsible power which he possesses, and by which he rules and governs the universe, but in respect of that authority which he possesses in consequence of his goodness and excellence, for God is the name of goodness, the cause of all things; that you may understand that he also created all inanimate things, not by his authority, but by his goodness, by which also he created all living things; for it was requisite for the manifestation of the better things, that there should also be a subordinate creation of the inferior things, through the power of the same goodness which was the cause of all, which is God. (74) When, then, O Soul! shall you most especially consider that you have gained a victory? Will it not be when you are made perfect, and when you have been thought worthy of decisions in your favour and of crowns? For then you will be a lover of God, not of the body, and you will receive prizes, inasmuch as your wife shall be Thamar the bride of Judah, and Thamar being interpreted means the palmtree, the symbol of victory. And a proof of this is, that when Er married her, he was at once discovered to be a wicked man, and was slain; for Moses says, “And Judah took a wife for Er, his first-born son, whose name was Thamar;” and immediately afterwards he adds, “And Er was a wicked man before the Lord, and God slew him;” for when the mind has carried off the prize of virtue, it condemns the dead body to death. (75) You see that God also curses the serpent without allowing it to make any defence, for it is pleasure: and so also he slays Er without any visible cause being alleged, for Er is the body. And if you consider, O good friend, you will find that God has created in the soul some natural qualities which are in themselves faulty and blameless, and also in every soul some which are virtuous and praiseworthy, as is the case likewise with plants and animals. (76) Do you not see that the Creator has made some plants capable of cultivation and useful and salutary, and others incapable of cultivation, wild, pernicious, the causes of diseases and destruction; and animals too of similar variety of character, as beyond all question is the serpent, of which we are now speaking; for he is a destructive and deadly animal by his intrinsic nature. And as the serpent affects man, so does pleasure too affect the soul; in reference to which fact the serpent has been compared to pleasure.