XXXI. (145) Therefore the ambassadors who are sent speak as follows:–“We will pass on through thy land; we will not pass through thy fields nor through thy vineyards; we will not drink water form thy cistern; we will proceed by the royal road; we will not turn aside out of the way, to the right hand, nor to the left, until we have passed over thy borders. But Edom answered and said, Thou shalt not pass through my land: and if thou dost, I will come against thee in battle to meet thee. And the children of Israel said unto him. We will pass by thy mountain; but if I or my cattle drink of thy water, I will pay thee the price thereof. But it is of no consequence, we will pass by thy mountain. And he said, “Thou shalt not pass through my land.”41 (146) It is said of some man of old time, that when he saw a sumptuous procession properly equipped passing by, he looked towards one of his acquaintances and said, “My friends, see how many things there are of which I have no need,” in a very few words uttering what was truly a great and heavenly boast. What dost thou say? (147) Were you crowned as conqueror in the Olympic games in opposition to all the wealth arrayed against you; and were you so to that degree there that you took nothing from thence for your enjoyment or for your use? It is a marvellous statement, but the sentiment is more admirable still, which advanced to such a degree of strength, as to be able without any extraordinary exertion, nevertheless to carry off the victory by force.
XXXII. (148) But it is not allowed to one man alone to boast before Moses who has been instructed in the highest perfection of wisdom, but it belongs to the whole of a most populous nation. And this is the proof of that fact. The soul of every one of his friends felt confidence and was bold towards the king of all the apparent good things, the earthly Edom; for in fact all earthly good things are good only in appearance; they then I say were bold, so as to say, “I will now pass by thy land.” (149) Oh, the magnanimous and sublime promise! Tell me, will ye be able to surmount, to pass by, to run past all these things which on earth appear to be and are believed to be good? And is there nothing which will be able to check and restrain your forward advance by the power with which it resists you? (150) And when you have beheld all the treasures of riches one after another, and all full, will ye turn from them with aversion, and avert your eyes from them? And will ye look down upon the dignities of your ancestors, and on those which come to yourselves from your father and yourmother, and on their nobility which is so celebrated in the mouths of the multitude? And will ye forsake the glory for which men are ready to barter everything, leaving it behind as if it were something most utterly valueless? What more shall I say? Will ye disregard the health of the body, and the accurate perfection of the outward senses, and beauty, which is an object of contention to many, and strength such as no one can oppose, and all those other things by which the house or the tomb of the soul, or whatever else one ought to call it is adorned, will ye, I say, disregard all these things, so far as not to class any one of them among good things? (151) These are mighty deeds of boldness for a heavenly and celestial soul, which has utterly forsaken the regions of earth, and which has been drawn up on high, and has its abode among the divine natures. For being filled with the sight of the genuine and incorruptible good things, it very naturally repudiates those which only last a day and are spurious.