LVI. (275) Having said this much on these subjects, the historian proceeds: “And thou shalt depart to thy fathers, having lived in peace, in a good old Age.”{91}{#ge 15:15.} Therefore we, who are imperfect, are made war upon, and we become slaves, and only with difficulty do we find any relief from the dangers which impend over us. But the perfect race, exempt from slavery and free from the perils of war, is bred up in peace and the firmest freedom. (276) And there is a particular lesson to be learnt from his representing the good man not as dying but departing, in order to show that the race of the soul, which is completely purified, cannot be extinguished and cannot die, but only departs in the way of migration from this earth to heaven, not undergoing that dissolution and destruction which death appears to bring with it. (277) And after the words, “Thou shalt depart,” he adds, “to thy fathers.” It is here worth while to consider what kind of fathers is meant; for God can never mean those who had passed their lives in the country of the Chaldeans, among whom alone he had lived as being his relations, because he had been commanded by a sacred oracle to depart from those who were his kinsmen by blood. For, says the historian, “The Lord said unto Abraham, Depart from out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, to a land which I will show thee; and I will make thee into a great Nation.”{92}{#ge 12:1.} (278) For how can it be reasonable for him who was once been removed from his abode by the interference of Divine Providence, to return and dwell again in the same place? And how could it be reasonable for one who was about to be the leader of a new nation and or another race to be again assigned to his ancient one? For God would never have given to him a new character, and a new nation and family, if he had not wholly and entirely separated himself from his ancient one. (279) For that man is truly a chief of a nation and ruler of a family, from whom, as from a root, sprang that branch so fond of investigating and contemplating the affairs of our nature, by name Israel, since an express command has been given “to remove the old things from before the face of those which are New.”{93}{#le 26:10.} For where is any longer the use of investigations into antiquity, and ancient, and long-established customs, to those in whom on a sudden, when they have no such expectation, God rains all kinds of new blessings in a mass?

LVII. (280) Therefore, when he says “fathers,” he means not those whose souls have departed from them, and who are buried in the tombs of the land of Chaldea; but, as some say, the sun, and the moon, and the other stars; for some affirm that it is owing to these bodies that the nature of all the things in the world has its existence. But as some other persons think he means the archetypal ideas, those models of these thing which are perceptible by the outward senses and visible; which models, however, are only perceptible by the intellect and invisible; and that it is to these that the mind of the wise man emigrates. (281) Some, again, have fancied that by “fathers,” are here meant the four principles and powers of which the world is composed–the earth, the water, the air, and the fire; for they say, that all created things are very properly dissolved into these elements. (282) For as nouns, and verbs, and all the other parts of speech, consist of the elements of grammar, and again are resolvable into these ultimate principles, so, in the same manner, each individual among us, being compounded of the four elements, and borrowing small portions from each essence, does, at certain fixed periods, repay what he has borrowed, giving what he has dry to the earth, what moisture he has to the water, what heat he has to the fire, and what cold he has to the air. (283) These then are the things of the body; but the intellectual and heavenly race of the soul will ascend to the purest aether as to its father. For the fifth essence, as the account of the ancients tells us, may be a certain one, which brings things round in a cycle, differing from the other four as being superior to them, from which the stars and the whole heavens appear to be generated, and of which, as a natural consequence, one must lay it down that the human soul is a fragment.