LII. (258) An instance of the fourth kind of trance is the one which we are now considering: “And about the setting of the sun a trance fell upon Abraham,” he being thrown into a state of enthusiasm and inspired by the Deity. But this is not the only thing which shows him to have been a prophet, but also the express words which are engraven in the sacred scriptures as on a pillar. When some one endeavored to separate Sarah, that is, the virtue which is derived from nature, from him, as if she had not been the peculiar property of the wise man alone, but had also belonged to every one who made any pretence to wisdom, God said, “Give the man back his wife, because he is a prophet, and he will pray for thee, and thou shalt Live;”{85}{#ge 20:7.} (259) and the sacred scriptures testify in the case of every good man, that he is a prophet; for a prophet says nothing of his own, but everything which he says is strange and prompted by some one else; and it is not lawful for a wicked man to be an interpreter of God, as also no wicked man can be properly said to be inspired; but this statement is only appropriate to the wise man alone, since he alone is a sounding instrument of God’s voice, being struck and moved to sound in an invisible manner by him. (260) Accordingly, all those whom Moses describes as just persons he has also represented as inspired and prophesying. Noah was a just man; was he not also by that fact a prophet? or did he, without being possessed by any divine inspiration, utter those prayers and curses which he applied to the generations which should come hereafter, and all of which were eventually confirmed by the reality of the facts? (261) Why should I speak of Isaac? Why of Jacob? For these are also manifestly found to have been prophets by many other circumstances, and especially by their addresses to their children. For the annunciation, “Assemble yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the last Days”{86}{#ge 49:2.} was the expression of a man possessed by inspiration; for the knowledge of the future is not appropriate to, or natural to, man. (262) What shall we say of Moses? is he not celebrated everywhere as a prophet? For the scripture says, “If there shall be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will make myself known unto him in a Vision,”{87}{#nu 12:6.} but to Moses God appeared in his actual appearance and not by a riddle. And again we read, “There arose not any more any prophet like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to Face.”{88}{#de 34:10.} (263) Very admirably, therefore, does the historian here point out, that Abraham was under the influence of inspiration when he says that, “About the setting of the sun a trance fell upon him.”

LIII. And under the symbol of the sun he intimates our mind: for what reasoning is in us, that the sun is in the world. Since each of them gives light, the one casting a light which is perceptible by the outward senses, to shine upon the universe; and the other shedding their beams, discernible only by the intellect by means of our apprehensions, upon ourselves. (264) As long therefore as our mind still shines around and hovers around, pouring as it were a noontide light into the whole soul, we, being masters of ourselves, are not possessed by any extraneous influence; but when it approaches its setting, then, as is natural, a trance, which proceeds from inspiration, takes violent hold of us, and madness seizes upon us, for when the divine light sets this other rises and shines, (265) and this very frequently happens to the race of prophets; for the mind that is in us is removed from its place at the arrival of the divine Spirit, but is again restored to its previous habitation when that Spirit departs, for it is contrary to holy law for what is mortal to dwell with what is immortal. On this account the setting of our reason, and the darkness which surrounds it, causes a trance and a heaven-inflicted madness. (266) After that the historian connects with his preceding account what follows in consistency with it, saying, “And it was said to Abraham”–for in real truth the prophet, even when he appears to be speaking, is silent, and another being is employing his vocal organs, his mouth and tongue, for the explanation of what things he chooses; and operating on these organs by some invisible and very skilful act, he makes them utter a sweet and harmonious sound, full of every kind of melody.