XIX. (86) In the next place Moses commands the people to leave the land fallow and untilled every seventh year, for many reasons; {12}{#le 25:4.} first of all, that they may honour the number seven, or each period of days, and months, and years; for every seventh day is sacred, which is called by the Hebrews the sabbath; and the seventh month in every year has the greatest of the festivals allotted to it, so that very naturally the seventh year also has a share of the veneration paid to this number, and receives especial honour. (87) And the second reason is this, “Be not,” says the lawgiver, “wholly devoted to gain, but even willingly submit to some loss,” that so you may bear with the more indifference involuntary calamity if it should ever fall upon you, and not grieve and despond, as if at some new and strange occurrence; for there are some rich men so unfortunate in their dispositions, as, when want comes upon them, to groan and despond no less than they might do if they were deprived of all their substance. (88) But of the followers of Moses, all who are true disciples, being practised in good laws, are accustomed, from their earliest age, to bear want with patience, by the custom of leaving their fertile land fallow; and being also taught magnanimity, and one may almost say, to let slip out of their hands, from deliberate intention, revenues of admitted certainty. (89) The third reason appears to me to be thus, which is intimated in a somewhat figurative manner, namely, to show that it does not become any one whatever to weigh down and oppress men with burdens; for if one is to allow a period of rest to the portions of the earth which cannot by nature have any share in the feelings of pleasure or of pain, how much the more must men be entitled to a similar relaxation, who have not only these outward senses, which are common to the brute beasts, but also the especial gift of reason, by which the painful feelings which arise from toil and fatigue, are more vividly imprinted on their imaginations? (90) Cease, therefore, ye who are called masters, from imposing harsh and intolerable commands on your slaves, which break the strength of the body by their compulsion, and compel the soul to faint even before the bodies; (91) for there is no objection to your exerting a moderate degree of authority, giving orders by which you will receive the services to which you are entitled, and in consequence of which your servants will cheerfully do what they are desired; and then they will discharge their duties but for a short period, as if early exhausted, and, if one must say the truth, brought by their labours to old age before their time; but like athletes, preserving their youthful vigour for a long time, who do not become fat and corpulent, but who are accustomed, by exertion and sweat, to train themselves, so as to be able to acquire the things which are necessary and useful for life. (92) Moreover let the governors of cities cease to oppress them with continual and excessive taxes and tributes, filling their own stores with money, and in preserving as a treasure the illiberal vices which defile their whole lives; (93) for they do, on purpose, select as collectors of their revenues the most pitiless of men, persons full of all kinds of inhumanity, giving them abundant opportunity for the exercise of their covetousness; and they, in addition to their own innate severity of temper, receiving free license from the commands of their masters, and having determined to do everything so as to please them, practise all the harshest measures which they can imagine, having no notion of gentleness or humanity, not even in their dreams; (94) therefore they throw everything into disorder and confusion, levying their exactions, not only on the possessions of the citizens, but also on their persons, with insults and violence, and the invention of new and unprecedented torture. And before now I have heard of some persons who, in their ferocity and unequalled fury, have not spared even the dead; but have been so brutal as even to venture to beat the dead corpses with goads; (95) and when some one blamed their brutality, in that not even death, that relief and real end of all miseries, could prevent their victims from being insulted by them, but that, instead of a grave and the customary funeral rites, they were exposed to continued insult, they made a defence worse even than the accusation brought against them, saying that they were insulting the dead, not for the sake of abusing the dumb and senseless dust, for there was no advantage in that, but for the sake of making those who through ties of blood or of friendship were nearly connected with them feel compassion for them, and so inducing them to pay a ransom for their bodies, thus doing them the last service in their power.