II. (8) These considerations have come to our ears, having been discussed of old among men of divine spirit and wisdom, who have interpreted the writings of Moses in no superficial or careless manner. But, besides what has been already said, I also look upon circumcision to be a symbol of two things of the most indispensable importance. (9) First of all, it is a symbol of the excision of the pleasures which delude the mind; for since, of all the delights which pleasure can afford, the association of man with woman is the most exquisite, it seemed good to the lawgivers to mutilate the organ which ministers to such connections; by which rite they signified figuratively the excision of all superfluous and excessive pleasure, not, indeed, of one only, but of all others whatever, though that one which is the most imperious of all. (10) The second thing is, that it is a symbol of a man’s knowing himself, and discarding that terrible disease, the vain opinion of the soul; for some men, like good statuaries, have boasted that they can make that most beautiful animal, man; and, being puffed up with arrogance, have deified themselves, hiding from sight the true cause of the creation of all things namely, God, although they might have corrected that error from a consideration of other persons among whom they live; (11) for there are among them many men who have no children, and many barren women whose connections lead to nothing, so that they grow old in childlessness. We must therefore eradicate evil opinions from the mind, and all other ideas which are not devoted to God. This, then, is enough to say on these subjects. (12) But we must now turn to the special and particular laws; and first of all to those which relate to those people by whom it is well to be governed, those which have been enacted concerning Monarchy.{2}{yonge’s translation includes a separate treatise title at this point: On Monarchy, Book I. Accordingly, his next paragraph begins with roman numeral I (= III in Loeb). Yonge’s “treatise” concludes with number IX (= XI in the Loeb). The publisher has elected to follow the Loeb numbering.}

III. (13) Some persons have conceived that the sun, and the moon, and the other stars are independent gods, to whom they have attributed the causes of all things that exist. But Moses was well aware that the world was created, and was like a very large city, having rulers and subjects in it; the rulers being all the bodies which are in heaven, such as planets and fixed stars; (14) and the subjects being all the natures beneath the moon, hovering in the air and adjacent to the earth. But that the rulers aforesaid are not independent and absolute, but are the viceroys of one supreme Being, the Father of all, in imitation of whom they administer with propriety and success the charge committed to their care, as he also presides over all created things in strict accordance with justice and with law. Others, on the contrary, who have not discovered the supreme Governor, who thus rules everything, have attributed the causes of the different things which exist in the world to the subordinate powers, as if they had brought them to pass by their own independent act. (15) But the most sacred lawgiver changes their ignorance into knowledge, speaking in the following manner: “Thou shalt not, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the host of heaven, be led astray and fall down and worship Them.”{3}{#de 4:19.} With great felicity and propriety has he here called the reception of these bodies as gods, an error; (16) for they who see that the different seasons of the year owe their existence to the advances and retreats of the sun, in which periods also the generation of animals, and plants, and fruits, are perfected according to well-defined times, and who see also that the moon is the servant and successor of the sun, taking that care and superintendence of the world by night which the sun takes by day; and also that the other stars, in accordance with their sympathy with things on earth, labour continually and do ten thousand things which contribute to the duration of the existing state of things, have been led into an inextricable error, imagining that these bodies are the only gods. (17) But if they had taken pains to travel along the straight and true road, they would soon have known that just as the outward sense is the subordinate minister of the mind, so in the same manner all the objects of the outward senses are servants of that which is appreciable only by intellect, being well contented if they can attain to the second place in honour. (18) But it is altogether ridiculous to imagine that the mind, which is the smallest thing in us, being in fact invisible, is the ruler of those organs which belong to the external senses, but that the greatest and most perfect ruler of the whole universe is not the King of kings; that the being who sees, is not the ruler of those who do not see. (19) We must, therefore, look on all those bodies in the heaven, which the outward sense regards as gods, not as independent rulers, since they are assigned the work of lieutenants, being by their intrinsic nature responsible to a higher power, but by reason of their virtue not actually called to render in an account of their doings. (20) So that, transcending all visible essence by means of our reason, let us press forward to the honour of that everlasting and invisible Being who can be comprehended and appreciated by the mind alone; who is not only the God of all gods, whether appreciable only by the intellect or visible to the outward senses, but is also the creator of them all. And if any one gives up the service due to the everlasting and uncreated God, transferring it to any more modern and created being, let him be set down as mad and as liable to the charge of the greatest impiety.