XXXIX. (216) The mind, therefore, going forth out of the places which are in Charran, is said “to have travelled through the land until it came to the place of Sichem, to a lofty Oak.”{102}{#ge 12:6.} And let us now consider what this travelling through the land means. The disposition which is fond of learning is inquisitive and exceedingly curious by nature, going everywhere without fear or hesitation and prying into every place, and not choosing to leave anything in existence, whether person or thing, not thoroughly investigated; for it is by nature extraordinarily greedy of everything that can be seen or heard, so as not only not to be satisfied with the things of its own country, but even to desire foreign things which are established at a great distance. (217) At all events, they say that it is an absurd thing for merchants and dealers to cross the seas for the sake of gain, and to travel all round the habitable world, not allowing any considerations of summer, or winter, or violent gales, or contrary winds, or old age, or bodily sickness, or the society of friends, or the unspeakable pleasures arising from wife, or children, or one’s other relations, or love of one’s country, or the enjoyment of political connections, or the safe fruition of one’s money and other possessions, or, in fact, anything whatever, whether great or small, to be any hindrance to them; (218) and yet for men, for the sake of that most beautiful and desirable of all possessions, the only one which is peculiar to the human race, namely, wisdom, to be unwilling to cross over every sea and to penetrate every recess of the earth, inquiring whenever they can find anything beautiful either to see or to hear, and tracing out such things with all imaginable zeal and earnestness, until they arrive at the enjoyment of the things which are thus sought for and desired. (219) Do thou then, O my soul, travel through the land, and through man, bringing if you think fit, each individual man to a judgment of things which concern him; as, for instance, what the body is, and under what influences, whether active or passive, it co-operates with the mind; what the external sense is, and in what manner that assists the dominant mind; what speech is, and of what it becomes the interpreter so as to contribute to virtue; what are pleasure and desire; what are pain and fear; and what art is capable of supplying a remedy for these things; by the aid of which a man when infected with these feelings may easily escape, or else perhaps may never be infected at all: what folly is, what intemperance, what commiting injustice, what the whole multitude of other discases, which it is the nature of all destructive vice to engender; and also what are the means by which they can be averted. And also, on the contrary, what justice is, what prudence is, and temperance, and manly courage, and deliberate wisdom, and in short what each virtue is, and what the mastery over the passions is, and in what way each of these virtues is usually produced. (220) Travel also through the greatest and most perfect being, namely this world, and consider all its parts, how they are separated in respect of place and united in respect of power; and also what is this invisible chain of harmony and unity, which connects all those parts; and if while considering these matters, thou canst not easily comprehend what thou seekest to know, persevere and be not wearied; for these matters are not attainable without a struggle, but they are only found out with difficulty and by means of great labour; (221) on which account the man fond of learning is taken up to the field of Sichem; and the name Sichem, being interpreted means, “a shoulder,” and intimates labour, since it is on the shoulders that men are accustomed to bear burdens. As Moses also mentions in another passage, when speaking of a certain athlete he proceeds in this manner, “He put his shoulder to the labour and became a Husbandman.”{103}{#ge 49:15.} (222) So that never, O my mind, do thou become effeminate and yield; but even if any thing does appear difficult to be discovered by contemplation, still opening the seeing faculties that are in thyself, look inwards and investigate existing things more accurately, and never close the eyes whether intentionally or unintentionally; for sleep is a blind thing as wakefulness is a sharp-sighted thing. And it is well to be content if by assiduity in investigation it is granted to thee to arrive at a correct conception of the objects of thy search. (223) Do you not see that the scripture says that a lofty oak was planted in Sichem? meaning under this figurative expression to represent the labour of instruction which never gives in, and never bends through weariness, but is solid, firm, and invincible, which the man who wishes to be perfect must of necessity exert, in order that the tribunal of the soul, by name Dinah, for the interpretation of the name Dinah is “judgment” may not be seized by the exertions of that man who, being a plotter against prudence, is labouring in an opposite direction. (224) For he who bears the same name as this place, namely Sichem, the son of Hamor, that is, of irrational nature; for the name Hamor means “an ass;” giving himself up to folly and being bred up with shamelessness and audacity, infamous man that he was, attempted to pollute and to defile the judicial faculties of the mind; if the pupils and friends of wisdom, Sichem and Levi, had not speedily come up, having made the defences of their house safe, and destroyed those who were still involved in the labour devoted to pleasure and to the indulgence of the passions and uncircumcised. For though there was a sacred scripture that, “There should be no harlot among the daughters of the seer, Israel,”{104}{#ge 34:1.} these men, having ravished a virgin soul, hoped to escape notice; (225) for there is never a scarcity of avengers against those who violate treaties; but even though some persons fancy there may be, they will only fancy it, and will in the reality of the fact be proved to entertain a false opinion. For justice hates the wicked, and is implacable, and a relentless avenger of all unrighteous actions, overthrowing the ranks of those who defile virtue, and when they are overthrown, then again the soul, which before appeared to be defiled, changes and returns to its virgin state. I say, which appeared to be defiled, because, in fact, it never was defiled; for of involuntary accidents that which affects the patient is not in reality his suffering, just as what is done by a person who does wrong unintentionally, the wrong is not really his action.