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[On the Posterity of Cain, the Man Wise in His own Conceit; and on the Way in Which Cain Became an Exile.]

I. (1) “And Cain went out from before the face of God, and dwelt in the land of Nod, opposite to Eden.”{1}{#ge 4:16.} Now we may raise the question whether we are to take the expressions which occur in the books that have been handed down to us by Moses and to interpret them in a somewhat metaphorical sense, while the ideas which readily present themselves as derived from the names are very deficient in truth. (2) For if the living God has a face, and if he who desires to leave it can with perfect ease rise up and depart to another place, why do we repudiate the impiety of the Epicureans, or the godlessness of the Egyptians, or the mythical suggestions of which life is full? (3) For the face is a portion of an animal; but God is a whole, not a part: so that it becomes necessary to invent for him other parts also, a neck, and a chest, and hands, and moreover a belly, feet, and generative organs, and all the rest of the countless number of internal and external faculties. (4) And the fact of God’s having passions like unto those of man follows of necessity from the fact of his having a form like that of man: since all those limbs are not superfluous and mere exuberances, but have been made by nature as assistants of the weakness of those who possess them, and she has adapted them in a manner suitable to and consistent with their natural necessities and offices. But the living God has need of nothing; so that as he does not at all require the assistance to be derived from the parts of the body, he cannot possibly have such parts at all.

II. (5) And from whence does Cain go forth? is it from the palace of the ruler of the world? But what house of God can exist perceptible by the outward senses except this world which it is impossible and impracticable to quit? For the great circle of the heaven binds round and contains within itself everything which has ever been created; and of those things which have already perished, the component parts are resolved into their original elements, and are again portioned off among those powers of the universe of which they consist, the loan which, as it were, was advanced to each, being restored back at unequal periods of time, in accordance with laws previously laid down, to the nature which originally made it, whenever that nature chooses to call in its debts. (6) Again, if any person goes out from any place, that which he leaves behind him is in a different place from that in which he now is, but if this be true it must follow that there are some portions of the universe deprived of the presence of God, who never leaves any place empty or destitute of himself, but who fills up all things for all time; (7) and if God has not a face (inasmuch as he is not bound by what may seem appropriate for created things), and if he does not exist in parts inasmuch as he surrounds all things and is not surrounded by any, it is impossible for anything to remove and depart from this world as from a city, as there is no portion of it left without. It now remains for us, considering that none of these things are spoken of in terms of strict propriety, to turn to the allegorical system, which is dear to men versed in natural philosophy, taking the first principles of our argument from this source. (8) If it is hard to depart from before the face and out of the sight of a mortal king, how can it be anything but extremely difficult to depart and quit the appearance of God, and to determine no longer to come into his sight. This indeed is to be left without any idea of him, and to be mutilated as to the eyes of the soul, (9) and all those who of necessity have endured this fate, being weighed down by the might of irresistible and implacable power, are objects rather for pity than for hatred; but all those who voluntarily and of deliberated purposes have rejected the living God, exceeding even the bounds of wickedness itself, for what other evil of equal weight can possibly be found? Such men should suffer not the usual punishments of evil doers, but something new and extraordinary. And surely no one could invent a more novel or more terrible penalty than a departure and flight from the presence of the Ruler of the universe.