And with this view Moses does not flee from Pharaoh, for if he had done so he would have fled without returning; but withdraws for a time, that is to say he makes a truce from the war, after the fashion of a wrestler who seeks a respite and collects his breath again, until, having aroused the alliance of prudence and the other virtues he attacks his enemy once more, by divine reason, with the most vigorous power. (15) But Jacob, for he is a supplanter, having acquired virtue by regular system and discipline, not without hard labour, for his name had not as yet been changed to Israel, “fled from the affairs of Labour”{11}{#ge 31:20.} that is to say from colours and figures, and in short from bodies the nature of which is to wound the soul through the objects of outward sense; for since, when he was present, he could not entirely and utterly subdue them, he fled, fearing to be subdued by them. And he is very worthy of praise for so doing; for “says Moses you will make the children of Israel Cautious,”{12}{#le 15:31.} but not bold, or covetous of those things, which do not belong to them.

V. (16) “And Jacob concealed himself from Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he was about to flee from him, and he fled from him, taking with him all that he had, and he crossed the river, and proceeded towards the Mount Gilead.” It was most natural for him to conceal that he was about to flee, and not to inform Laban, who was a man depending wholly on thoughts such as arise from the outward senses, just as if you have seen some excellent beauty and are charmed with it, and are likely to be led into error in respect of it, you should privily flee from the imagination of it, and never tell it to your mind, that is to say, never think of it again nor give it any consideration, for continued recollections of anything are not without making some distinct impression, and injure the intellect and turn it out of the right way, even against its will. (17) And the same reasoning applies to all temptations which arise in respect of any one of the external senses, for in all such cases secret flight is the preserver from danger. But to keep recalling the temptation to one’s mind, and to talk of it and dwell upon it subdues and enslaves the reason by force. Do not these then ever, O my mind, report to yourself any object of outward sense that has been seen by you, if you are likely to be led away captive by it, and do not dwell on it, in order that you may not become miserable by being subdued by it, but rather, while you are still free, rise up and flee, preferring untamed liberty to slavery and subjection to a master.