XVI. (70) Accordingly, the body-loving race of the Egyptians is represented as fleeing, not from the water, but “under the water,” that is to say, beneath the impetuous speed of the passions. And when it has once placed itself under the power of the passions, it is shaken and agitated; it casts away the stable and peaceable qualities of virtue, and takes up in their stead the turbulent and confused character of wickedness; for it is said that “God shook the Egyptians in the middle of the sea, fleeing under the Water.”{20}{#ex 14:27.} (71) These are they who neither knew Joseph–the diversified pride of life–but who, having their sins revealed, have not received any trace, or shade, or image of goodness and excellence. (72) For, says Moses, “Another king arose over the Egyptians who knew not Joseph,”{21}{#ex 1:8.} the latest and most modern good perceptible by the outward senses, who utterly destroyed not only the perfections but even all improvements, and all the energy which can be exerted by the sight, and all the teaching which can be implanted by means of the hearing, saying, “Come, curse me Jacob; and come, defy Israel for Me;”{22}{numbers 23:7.} an expression which is equivalent to, Destroy both these things, the sight and the hearing of the soul, that it may neither see nor hear any true and genuine good thing; for Israel is the emblem of seeing and Jacob of hearing. (73) Accordingly the mind of such persons rejects the nature of good, being in some degree shaken; and, on the other hand, the mind of good persons, setting up a claim to the unmingled and unalloyed ideas of good things, shakes off and discards all that is evil. (74) Consider, therefore, what the practiser of virtue says: “Take up the foreign gods that are among you from out of the midst of you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments, and rise up and let us go to Bethel;”{23}{#ge 35:2.} in order that, even if Laban should demand a power of examining, the images might not be found in his whole house, but only such things as have a real subsistence and essence, being fixed like pillars in the mind of the wise man, which the self-taught offspring Isaac has received as his inheritance; for he alone receives his father’s substance as his Inheritance.”{24}{#ge 25:5.}

XVII. (75) And take notice that Moses does not say that they came unto a plain in which they remain, but that they “found” one, having searched around in every direction, and having considered what might be the most suitable region for folly; for in reality every foolish man does not take from another for himself, but he seeks for and finds evils, not being content only with those which wicked nature proceeds towards of its own accord, but also adding thereto such perfect skill in evil as arises from constant practice in contriving wrong. (76) And I wish indeed that after he had remained there a brief time he had changed his abode; but even now he thinks fit to remain, for it is said that having found the plain they dwelt there; having settled there as if in their own country and not as if in a foreign land; for it would have been less trouble for men who had fallen in with wicked actions to look upon them as strange and foreign to them, and not to consider that they had any kindred or connection with them. For if they had looked upon themselves as sojourners among them, they would have changed their abode at a subsequent time, but now having settled fixedly among them they were likely to dwell there for ever. (77) For this reason all the wise men mentioned in the books of Moses are represented as sojourners, for their souls are sent down from heaven upon earth as to a colony; and on account of their fondness for contemplation, and their love of learning, they are accustomed to migrate to the terrestrial nature. (78) Since therefore having taken up their abode among bodies, they behold all the mortal objects of the outward senses by their means, they then subsequently return back from thence to the place from which they set out at first, looking upon the heavenly country in which they have the rights of citizens as their native land, and as the earthly abode in which they dwell for a while as in a foreign land. For to those who are sent to be the inhabitants of a colony, the country which has received them is in place of their original mother country; but still the land which has sent them forth remains to them as the house to which they desire to return. (79) Therefore, very naturally, Abraham says to the guardians of the dead and to the arrangers of mortal affairs, after he has forsaken that life which is only dead and the tomb, “I am a stranger and a sojourner among You,”{25}{#ge 23:4.} but ye are natives of the country, honouring the dust and earth more than the soul, thinking the name Ephron worthy of precedence, for Ephron, (80) being interpreted, means “a mound” and naturally, Jacob, the practiser of virtue, bewails his being a sojourner in the body, saying, “The days of the years of my life which I spend here as a sojourner have been few and evil; they have not come up to the days of my fathers which they spent as Sojourners.”{26}{#ge 47:9.} (81) But to him who was self-taught the following injunction of scripture was given, “Do not go down,” says the scripture, “to Egypt,” that is to say to passion; “but dwell in this land, land which I will tell thee Of,”{27}{#ge 26:9.} namely, in the incorporeal wisdom which cannot be pointed out to the eye; and be a sojourner in this land, the substance which can be pointed out and appreciated by the external sense. And this is said with a view to show, that the wise man is a sojourner in a foreign land, that is to say in the body perceptible by the outward senses, who dwells among the virtues appreciable by the intellect as in his native land, which virtues God utters as in no way differing from the divine word. (82) But Moses says, “I am a sojourner in a foreign land;” speaking with peculiar fitness, looking upon his abode in the body not only as foreign land, as sojourners do, but also as a land from which one ought to feel alienated, and never look upon it as one’s home.