XVII. (69) Therefore, some people considered, that they who said that everything was the property of the one good Being, were speaking in an unreasonable manner, looking at the deficiencies and abundance which existed externally, and thinking no one rich who was in want of either money or possessions. But Moses thinks wisdom a thing of such pre-eminent value, and deserving to be so eagerly sought after, that not only the whole world deserves to be his inheritance, but that he even looks upon the Governor of the universe in that light; (70) and these are the doctrines, not of men who are halting between two opinions, but of those who are occupied in a firm and sure faith; since, even now, there are some persons among those who make a show and pretence of piety, who calumniate the literal meaning of this saying, saying that it is neither pious nor safe to speak of God as the inheritance of a man. (71) You say thisùI should say to themùbecause ye have come not from genuine passion, but from a supposititious and illegitimate one, to the investigation of things. For you thought it a matter of equal consequence for God to be called the inheritance of possessions, of vineyards, and oliveyards, and such matters, and of wise men; and ye did not perceive that paintings are said to be the inheritance of painters, and, in short, that any art is said to be the inheritance of the artist, not looked at as an earthly possession, but as a heavenly prize; for none of such things are the property of any master, (72) but still they are an advantage to those who possess them: so that you, O sycophants, hear of the living God as an inheritance, not in the sense of being a possession, like those which I have enumerated, but as being the most beneficial and greatest of goods to those who think fit to worship the Cause of all good.

XVIII. (73) Having, therefore, now said what is proper concerning the original planter and the original plant, let us next proceed, in due order, to the consideration of matters of instruction and imitation. In the first place, then, the wise Abraham is said “to have planted a field at the well of the oath, and to have called upon the name of the everlasting Lord God.”{17}{#ge 21:33.} And here there is no peculiar property of the plants mentioned, but only the magnitude of the place. (74) And they who are in the habit of investigating these matters say, that everything which belongs to God has been very carefully and accurately described, both tree and place, and the fruit of the tree. Accordingly, they say that the tree was the field itself, not like those trees which sprung up out of the ground, but rather to those which grow according to the firmly-rooted mind of the man who loves God: and the place, they say, is the well of the oath, and the fruit, the change of the name of the Lord into that of “The Eternal God.” (75) And it is necessary further to give the probable explanation of each point of the things here mentioned. The field, then, being in length a hundred cubits, and as many in breadth, multiplied together according to the nature and character of a square, is composed of ten thousand superficial cubits; (76) and this is the greatest limit of those numbers which increase from the unit, and also the most perfect: so that the limit is the beginning of numbers, and the end, in those calculations, according to the first combination, is the number ten thousand; in reference to which fact, some persons have not erred greatly, who have compared the limit to the starting-place, and the number ten thousand to the goal, and all the numbers between these two to those who contend in a race; for they, beginning to start from the unit, as from the starting place, come to the number ten thousand as to the goal. (77) Therefore, some persons, departing from these numbers, as from signals, have said that God is the beginning and end of everything, which is a doctrine admirably calculated to engender piety. This doctrine, being implanted in the soul, produces a most beautiful and nutritious fruit, holiness; and the place most suitable for this fruit, (78) is the well which is called the oath, in which there is a report that no water could be found. For, says Moses, “the children of Israel, coming thither, reported to him concerning the well which they had digged: and they said, We found no water; and he called that place, æThe Oath.’ “{18}{#ge 26:32.} Let us now consider what is the meaning of this statement.