VII. (21) And what that prudence was he will proceed to tell us, for he adds, “And you have led away my daughters as captives; and if you had told me, I would myself have sent you away.”{13} {#Ge 31:27.} You would not have sent away things which were at variance with one another, for if you had sent them away really, and had emancipated the soul, you would have removed from it all bodily sounds, and such as affect the outward senses; for in this way the intellect is emancipated from evils and passions. But now you say that you send it away free, but by your actions you confess that you would have retained it in a prison; for if you had sent it on its way with musical instruments, and drums and harps, and all the pleasures which affect the outward senses, you would not in reality have released it at all; (22) for it is not you then only from whom we are fleeing, O Laban, thou companion of bodies and colours, but we are also escaping from everything that is thine, in which the voices of the outward senses sound in harmony with the energies of the passions. For we, if at least we are practisers of virtue, have meditated a very necessary meditation, which Jacob also meditated, namely, to overthrow and destroy those gods who are hostile to the soul, gods made by hands, gods whom Moses forbade the people to make; {14}{#le 19:4.} and these gods are the destruction of virtue and of a good state of the passions, but the consolidation and confirmation of vice and the appetites; for that metal which is cast, after it has been fused, is soon consolidated again.

VIII. (23) But Moses speaks thus, “And they gave to Jacob the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the turpentine tree which was in Shechem.”{15}{#ge 35:4.} These are the gods of the wicked, but Jacob is not said to have taken them, but to have concealed and destroyed them, for every case being most accurately described, for the virtuous man will take nothing from wickedness for his own advantage, but will conceal all such things and destroy them secretly. (24) Just as Abraham tells the king of Sodom, when he was proposing to give him things of irrational nature in exchange for rational animals, namely, horses in exchange for men, “that he would take nothing that belonged to him, but that he would stretch out “the action of his soul,” which, speaking symbolically, he called “his hand,” to the most high God; {16}{#ge 14:21.} “for that he had not taken from a thread even to a shoe-latchet of all that was his (the king of Sodom’s), in order that the king might never say that he had made the discerning man,” namely Abraham, “rich,” exchanging poverty for wealthy virtue. (25) The passions are always concealed and guarded in Shechem; and the name Shechem being interpreted means “the shoulder;” for he who labours concerning pleasures is inclined to preserve them. But the passions are concealed and destroyed by the wise man, and that too not for a brief space of time, but up to this present day, that is to say, for ever, for all time is measured by the present day, for the cycle of one day is the measure of all time. (26) On which account Jacob gives Joseph Shechem, {17}{#ge 48:22.} as an especial portion beyond the rest of his brethren, meaning thereby the bodily things which are the objects of the outward senses, since he had gone through labour in respect of them; but to Judah the confessor he gave not presents but praise, and hymns and divine songs, in which he should be celebrated by his brethren. And Jacob did not receive Shechem as a gift from God, but he took it with his sword and with his bow, that is to say, by words, which had the power of cutting and repelling; for the wise man subjects all secondary things to himself, and when he has so subjected them he does not retain them, but makes a present of them to him who is by nature adapted to them. (27) Do you not see that also, when he appeared to take the gods, he did not take them but concealed them and put them out of the way, and destroyed them out of his sight for ever. Now to what soul could it have happened to conceal vice and to put it out of the way, except to that soul to which God was revealed, and which he considered worthy to receive the revelation of his unspeakable mysteries? For he says, “shall I hide from Abraham my son that thing which I am Doing?”{18}{#ge 18:17.} Well done, O Saviour, in that thou showest thy works to the soul which desires good things, and has concealed from it no one of thy works: and by reason of this conduct of thine he is able to avoid evil, and to conceal it and keep it out of sight, and to destroy for ever the passions which are injurious.