XLIX. (144) And he also displays, in a further degree, the moderation of the passions of the man who is advancing towards perfection, by the fact that the perfect man discards all the pleasures of the belly without being prompted by any command to do so, but that he who is only advancing onwards towards perfection only does so in consequence of being commanded. For, in the case of the wise man, we find the following expression used:–“He washes his belly and his feet with Water,”{62}{#le 9:14.} without any command, in accordance with his own unbidden inclination. But, in the case of the priests, he spoke thus: “But their bowels and their feet,” not they have washed, but “they do Wash;”{63}{#le 1:13.} speaking with very cautious exactness, for the perfect man must be moved in his own inclination towards the energies in accordance with virtue. But he who is only practising virtue must be instigated by reason, which points out to him what he ought to do, and it is an honourable thing to obey the injunctions of reason. (145) But we ought not to be ignorant that Moses repudiates the whole of the belly, that is to say, the filling and indulging the belly, and almost renounces all the other passions likewise; the lawgiver giving a lively representation of the whole from one part, starting from a universal example, and discussing, potentially at least, the other points as to which he was silent.

L. The filling of the belly is a most enduring and universal thing; and, as it were, a kind of foundation of the other passions. At all events, there is not one of them which can find any existence if it is not supported by the belly, on which nature has made everything to depend. (146) On this account, when the goods of the soul had previously been born of Leah, and had ended in Judah, {64}{genesis 29:35.} that is to say, in confession, God being about to create also the improvements of the body, prepared Bilhah, the hand-maid of Rachel, to bear children on behalf of and before her mistress. And the name Bilhah, being interpreted, means deglutition. For he knew that not one of the corporeal faculties can exist without imbibing moisture and without the belly; but the belly is predominant over and the ruler of the whole body, and the preserver of this corporeal mass in a state of existence. (147) And observe the subtle way in which all this is expressed; for you will not find a single word used superfluously. Moses indeed “takes away the breast,” but as for the belly he does not take that away, but he washes It.{65}{#le 8:29û9:14.} Why so? Because the perfectly wise man is able to repudiate and to eradicate all the angry passions, making them rise up and abandon anger; but he is unable to cut out and discard the belly, for nature is compelled to use the necessary meats and drinks, even if a man, being content with the scantiest possible supply of necessaries should despise it, and purpose to himself to abjure eating. Let him therefore wash and purify it from all superfluous and unclean preparations; for to be able to do even this is a very sufficient gift from God to the lover of virtue.