XXXIII. (162) Or the creatures which are fit to be offered as sacrifices, some are land animals, and some are such as fly through the air. Passing over, therefore, the infinite varieties of birds, God chose only two classes out of them all, the turtledove and the pigeon; because the pigeon is by nature the most gentle of all those birds which are domesticated and gregarious, and the turtle-dove the most gentle of those which love solitude. (163) Also, passing over the innumerable troops of land animals, whose very numbers it is not easy to ascertain, he selected these especially as the best–the oxen, and sheep, and goats; for these are the most gentle and the most manageable of all animals. At all events, great herds of oxen, and numerous flocks of goats and sheep, are easily driven by any one, not merely by any man, but by any little child, when they go forth to pasture, and in the same way they are brought back to their folds in good order when the time comes. (164) And of this gentleness, there are many other proofs, and the most evident are these: that they all feed on herbage, and that no one of them is carnivorous, and that they have neither crooked talons, nor any projecting tusks or teeth whatever; for the back parts of the upper jaw do not hold teeth, but all the incisor teeth are deficient in them: (165) and, besides these facts, they are of all animals the most useful to man. Rams are the most useful for the necessary covering of the body; oxen, for ploughing the ground and preparing the arable land for seed, and for the growth of the crops that shall hereafter come to be threshed out, in order that men may partake of and enjoy food; and the hair and fleeces of goats, where one is woven, or the other sewn together, make movable tents for travellers, and especially for men engaged in military expeditions, whom their necessities constantly compel to abide outside of the city in the open air.
XXXIV. (166) And the victims must be whole and entire, without any blemish on any part of their bodies, unmutilated, perfect in every part, and without spot or defect of any kind. At all events, so great is the caution used with respect not only to those who offer the sacrifices, but also to the victims which are offered, that the most eminent of the priests are carefully selected to examine whether they have any blemishes or not, and scrutinise them from head to foot, inspecting not only those parts which are easily visible, but all those which are more out of sight, such as the belly and the thighs, lest any slight imperfection should escape notice. (167) And the accuracy and minuteness of the investigation is directed not so much on account of the victims themselves, as in order that those who offer them should be irreproachable; for God designed to teach the Jews by these figures, whenever they went up to the altars, when there to pray or to give thanks, never to bring with them any weakness or evil passion in their soul, but to endeavour to make it wholly and entirely bright and clean, without any blemish, so that God might not turn away with aversion from the sight of it.