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I. (1) And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go to the field. And it came to pass, that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew Him.”{1}{#ge 4:8.} What Cain proposes to do is this: having by invitation led Abel on to a dispute, to convince him by main force, using plausible and probable sophisms; for the field to which he invites him to come, we may call a symbol of rivalry and contention, forming our conjectures of things that are uncertain from our perception of those which are manifest. (2) For we see that most contests, both in peace and in war, take place in the open fields. In peace, therefore, all those who practise gymnastic contests, seek for level race-courses and plain fields: and, in a war, it is not usual to have battles, of either infantry or cavalry, on hills; for many more disasters arise from the unfavourable character of the ground, than from anything that the enemies do to one another.

II. (3) And a very great proof of this is the conduct of the practiser of knowledge, Jacob, when warring against the opposite disposition, ignorance; when it is beheld in the field how he regulates the irrational faculties in the soul after a fashion, reproving and correcting them. “For Jacob having sent, called Leah and Rachel into the plain where the flocks Were;”{2}{#ge 31:4.} (4) showing here clearly, that the plain is the symbol of revolt and contention. And he calls them and says, “I see the face of your father, that it is not to me as it was yesterday and the day before yesterday, {3} {#Ge 31:5.} but the God of my father was with me.” And on this account I should be inclined to say, Laban is not favourable to you because God is on your side; for in the soul, by which the external object of the outward senses is honoured as the greatest good, perfect reason is not found to exist; but in the soul, in which God walks, the external object of the outward senses is not looked upon as the greatest good, according to which object the name of Laban is given and understood. (5) And all those who, through the improvement of their reason, are adorned in the similitude of the Father, in consequence of education, unlearn all subserviency to the irrational impulses of the soul, selecting the plain as a suitable place, for it is said to Joseph, “Are not thy brethren keeping sheep in Sichem? Come, I will send thee to them. And he said, Behold, here am I. And Jacob said unto him, Go and see if thy brethren and the flocks are well, and come and tell me. And he sent him from the valley of Chebron, and he came to Sichem, and a man found him wandering in the plain: and the man asked him, What seekest thou? And he said, I am seeking my brethren, tell me where they are feeding their sheep. And the man said unto him they have departed from hence, for I heard them saying, Let us go to Dotham.”{4}{#ge 37:12.}

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