XXXVIII. (205) But, as it seems, he is not now speaking of that God who was the first being who had any existence, and the Father of the universe, but of those who are accounted gods in the different cities; and they are falsely called gods, being only made by the arts of painters and sculptors, for the whole inhabited world is full of statues and images, and erections of that kind, of whom it is necessary however to abstain from speaking ill, in order that no one of the disciples of Moses may ever become accustomed at all to treat the appellation of God with disrespect; for that name is always most deserving to obtain the victory, and is especially worthy of love. (206) But if any one were, I will not say to blaspheme against the Lord of gods and men, but were even to dare to utter his name unseasonably, he must endure the punishment of death; (207) for those persons who have a proper respect for their parents do not lightly bring forward the names of their parents, though they are but mortal, but they avoid using their proper names by reason of the reverence which they bear them, and call them rather by the titles indicating their natural relationship, that is, father and mother, by which names they at once intimate the unsurpassable benefits which they have received at their hands, and their own grateful disposition. (208) Therefore these men must not be thought worthy of pardon who out of volubility of tongue have spoken unseasonably, and being too free of their words have repeated carelessly the most holy and divine name of God.
XXXIX. (209) Moreover, in accordance with the honour due to the Creator of the universe, the prophet hallowed the sacred seventh day, beholding with eyes of more acute sight than those of mortals its pre-eminent beauty, which had already been deeply impressed on the heaven and the whole universal world, and had been borne about as an image by nature itself in her own bosom; (210) for first of all Moses found that day destitute of any mother, and devoid of all participation in the female generation, being born of the Father alone without any propagation by means of seed, and being born without any conception on the part of any mother. And then he beheld not only this, that it was very beautiful and destitute of any mother, neither being born of corruption nor liable to corruption; and then, in the third place, he by further inquiry discovered that it was the birthday of the world, which the heaven keeps as a festival, and the earth and all the things in and on the earth keep as a festival, rejoicing and delighting in the all-harmonious number of seven, and in the sabbath day. (211) For this reason the all-great Moses thought fit that all who were enrolled in his sacred polity should follow the laws of nature and meet in a solemn assembly, passing the time in cheerful joy and relaxation, abstaining from all work, and from all arts which have a tendency to the production of anything; and from all business which is connected with the seeking of the means of living, and that they should keep a complete truce, abstaining from all laborious and fatiguing thought and care, and devoting their leisure, not as some persons scoffingly assert, to sports, or exhibitions of actors and dancers, for the sake of which those who run madly after theatrical amusements suffer disasters and even encounter miserable deaths, and for the sake of these the most dominant and influential of the outward senses, sight and hearing, make the soul, which should be the heavenly nature, the slave of these senses. (212) But, giving up their time wholly to the study of philosophy, not of that sort of philosophy which wordcatchers and sophists, seek to reduce to a system, selling doctrines and reasonings as they would any other vendible thing in the market. Men who (O you earth and sun!) employ philosophy against philosophy, and yet never wear a blush on their countenance; but who, applying themselves to the kindred philosophy, which they make up of these component parts, namely, of intention, and words, and actions, all united into one species, in order to the acquisition and enjoyment of happiness. (213) Now some one disregarding this injunction, even while he yet had the sacred words of God respecting the holy seventh day still ringing in his ears, which God had uttered without the intervention of the prophet, and, what is the most wonderful thing of all, by a visible voice which affected the eyes of those who were present even more than their ears, went forth through the middle of the camp to pick up sticks, well knowing that all the people in the camp were perfectly quiet and doing nothing, and even while he was committing the iniquity was seen and detected, all disguise being impossible; (214) for some persons, having gone forth out of the gates to some quiet spot, that they might pray in some retired and peaceful place, seeing a most unholy spectacle, namely this man carrying a faggot of sticks, and being very indignant, were about to put him to death; but reasoning with themselves they restrained the violence of their wrath, that they might not appear, as they were only private persons, to chastise any one rather than the magistrates, and that too uncondemned; though indeed in other respects the transgression was manifest and undeniable, wishing also that no pollution arising from an execution, even though most righteously inflicted, should defile the sacred day. But they apprehended him, and led him away to the magistrate, with whom the priests were sitting as assessors; and the whole multitude collected together to hear the trial; (215) for it was invariably the custom, as it was desirable on other days also, but especially on the seventh day, as I have already explained, to discuss matters of philosophy; the ruler of the people beginning the explanation, and teaching the multitude what they ought to do and to say, and the populace listening so as to improve in virtue, and being made better both in their moral character and in their conduct through life; (216) in accordance with which custom, even to this day, the Jews hold philosophical discussions on the seventh day, disputing about their national philosophy, and devoting that day to the knowledge and consideration of the subjects of natural philosophy; for as for their houses of prayer in the different cities, what are they, but schools of wisdom, and courage, and temperance, and justice, and piety, and holiness, and every virtue, by which human and divine things are appreciated, and placed upon a proper footing?