XXXVI. (118) For Moses confesses that the Levites who being taken in exchange for the firstborn, were appointed ministers of him who alone is worthy to be ministered unto, were the ransom of all the rest of the Israelites. “For I,” says God, “behold, I have chosen the Levites out of the midst of the children of Israel, instead of every firstborn that openeth the womb from among the children of Israel; they shall be their ransom and the Levites shall belong to me: for every first-born is mine; from that day in which I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I dedicated to myself all the first-born of Israel.”{50}{#le 3:12.} (119) Reason which fled to God and became his suppliant, is what is here called the Levite; God having taken this from the most central and dominant part of the soul, that is to say, having taken it to himself and appropriated it as his own share, thought it worthy of the honour due to the first-born. So that from these it is plain that Reuben is the first-born of Jacob, but Levi the first born of Israel, the one having the honours of seniority according to time, but the other according to dignity and power. (120) For Jacob being the symbol of labour and improvement, is also the beginning of goodness of disposition, which is signified in Reuben: but the fountain of contemplation of the only wise being, according to which the name of Israel is given, is the principle of being inclined to minister to him; and of such ministry the Levite is the symbol. As therefore Jacob is found to be the inheritor of the birth-right of Esau, eagerness in wickedness having been defeated by virtuous labour, so also Levi, as one who devotes himself to perfect virtue, will carry off the honours of seniority from Reuben, the man of a good disposition. But the most undeniable proof of perfection is for a man to be a fugitive to God, having abandoned all concern for the things of creation.