THE EIGHTH FESTIVAL

XXXI. (188) Immediately after comes the festival of the sacred moon; in which it is the custom to play the trumpet in the temple at the same moment that the sacrifices are offered. From which practice this is called the true feast of trumpets, and there are two reasons for it, one peculiar to the nation, and the other common to all mankind. Peculiar to the nation, as being a commemoration of that most marvellous, wonderful, and miraculous event that took place when the holy oracles of the law were given; (189) for then the voice of a trumpet sounded from heaven, which it is natural to suppose reached to the very extremities of the universe, so that so wondrous a sound attracted all who were present, making them consider, as it is probable, that such mighty events were signs betokening some great things to be accomplished. (190) And what more great or more beneficial thing could come to men than laws affecting the whole race? And what was common to all mankind was this: the trumpet is the instrument of war, sounding both when commanding the charge and the retreat. … There is also another kind of war, ordained of God, when nature is at variance with itself, its different parts attacking one another. (191) And by both these kinds of war the things on earth are injured. They are injured by the enemies, by the cutting down of trees, and by conflagrations; and also by natural injuries, such as droughts, heavy rains, lightning from heaven, snow and cold; the usual harmony of the seasons of the year being transformed into a want of all concord. (192) On this account it is that the law has given this festival the name of a warlike instrument, in order to show the proper gratitude to God as the giver of peace, who has abolished all seditions in cities, and in all parts of the universe, and has produced plenty and prosperity, not allowing a single spark that could tend to the destruction of the crops to be kindled into flame.

THE NINTH FESTIVAL

XXXII. (193) And after the feast of trumpets the solemnity of the fast is celebrated, {27}{part of sections 193û194 was omitted in Yonge’s translation because the edition on which Yonge based his translation, Mangey, lacked this material. These lines have been newly translated for this volume.} Perhaps some of those who are perversely minded and are not ashamed to censure excellent things will say, “What sort of a feast is this where there is no eating and drinking, no troupe of entertainers or audience, no copious supply of strong drink nor the generous display of a public banquet, nor moreover the merriment and revelry of dancing to the sound of flute and harp, and timbrels and cymbals, and the other instruments of music which awaken the unruly lusts through the channel of the ears? (194) For it is in these and through these, it seems, that they think good cheer consists. They do this in ignorance of the true good cheer which the all-wise Moses saw with the most sharpsighted eyes and so proclaimed the fast a feast and named it the greatest of feasts in our ancestral language, “a Sabbath of Sabbaths,” or as the Greeks would say, a seven of sevens and a holier than things holy. He did this for many reasons. (195) The first reason is the temperance which the lawgiver is continually exhorting men to display at all times, both in their language and in their appetites, both in and below the belly. And he most especially enjoins them to display it now, when he devotes a day to the particular observances of it. For when a person has once learnt to be indifferent to meat and drink, those very necessary things, what can there be of things which are superfluous that he would find any difficulty in disregarding? (196) The second reason is, that every one is at this time occupied in prayers and supplications, and since they all devote their entire leisure to nothing else from morning till evening, except to most acceptable prayers by which they endeavour to gain the favour of God, entreating pardon for their sins and hoping for his mercy, not for their own merits but through the compassionate nature of that Being who will have forgiveness rather than punishment. (197) The third is an account of the time at which this fast is fixed to take place; for by this season all the fruits which the earth has produced during the whole year are gathered in. And therefore to proceed at once to devour what has been produced Moses looked upon as an act of greediness; but to fast, and to abstain from touching food, he considered a mark of perfect piety which teaches the mind not to trust to the food which it may have prepared as the cause of health or life. (198) Therefore those who, after the gathering in of the harvest, abstain from the food, do almost declare in express words, “We have with joy received, and we shall cheerfully store up the bounteous gifts of nature; but we do not ascribe to any corruptible thing the cause of our own durable existence, but we attribute that to the Saviour, to the God who rules in the world, and who is able, either by means of these things or without them, to nourish and to preserve Us.{28}{part of sections 199û200 was omitted in Yonge’s translation because the edition on which Yonge based his translation, Mangey, lacked this material. These lines have been newly translated for this volume.} (199) At all events, behold, he nourished our forefathers even in the desert for forty Years.{29}{#de 8:2.} How he opened fountains to give them abundant drink; and how he rained food from heaven sufficient for each day so that they might consume what they needed, and rather than hording or bartering or taking thought of the bounties received, they might rather reverence and worship the bountiful Giver and honour him with hymns and benedictions such as are due him.” (200) The day of the fast is always celebrated on the tenth day of the month by order of the law. Why is it on the tenth? As we have specified in our treatments of it, {30}{this is probably a reference to the tractate Concerning Numbers mentioned in QG 4.110 and Mos. 2.115.} it is named complete perfection by wise Men{31}{panteleia is a Pythagorean name for the number ten.} and encompasses all the proportions, the arithmetical and the harmonic and the geometric, and in addition the harmonies: the 4:3 ratio through four notes, the 3:2 ratio through five notes, the 2:1 ratio through the octave, the 4:1 ratio through the double octave, and it also has the 9:8 ratio so that it is the most perfect summation of musical theories. From this fact it is named complete Perfection.{32}{the text literally says: “the 11/3 through four, the 11/2 through five, the doubled through the octave, the quadrupled through the double octave, and it also has the 11/8 ratio …” Philo has a fuller statement in Opif. 48. In each instance he is following the Pythagoreans who applied number theory to music. For similar treatments see Plutarch, Moralia 1139D (Mus. 23) and Sextus Empiricus Adv. Math. 7.94û95.} (201) Therefore God has ordained that abstinence from food should take place in accordance with the perfect number, for the sake of affording the best nourishment to the best thing which is in us; that no one may suppose that the interpreter of God’s word is enjoining hunger, the most intolerable of all evils, but only a brief cutting off of the stream which flows into the channels of the body. (202) For thus the clear stream which proceeds from the fountain of reason was likely to be borne smoothly and evenly to the soul, since the uninterrupted use of food inundating the body contributes also to confuse the reason. But if the supply of food be checked, then the reason getting a firm footing as in a dry road, will be able to proceed in safety without stumbling; (203) and besides it was fitting that when the supply of all things had turned out according to the wishes of the people and become completed, they should, amid the abundance of their harvest, preserve a commemoration of their previous want by abstinence from food, and should offer up prayers, in order that they might never come to a real experience of a want of necessary food.