Works by Philo : Table of Contents
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I. (1) “And Sarah afflicted her, and she fled from before her face. And the angel of the Lord found her sitting by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by a fountain which is in the way to Shur. And the angel of the Lord said unto her: æThou handmaiden of Sarah, whence art thou come? and whither art thou going?’ And she answered and said: æI am fleeing from the face of Sarah, my mistress.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her: æReturn unto thy mistress, and be thou humbled beneath her hands.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her: æBehold, thou art with child, and thou shalt bring forth a son, and shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard the cry of thy humiliation. He shall be a rude man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against Him.”{1}{#ge 16:8.} (2) Having in our former treatise spoken what was becoming respecting the preliminary branches of education, and respecting affliction, we will now proceed in regular order to discuss the topic of fugitives. Now Moses often mentions persons who flee, as here he says concerning Hagar, that being afflicted she fled from the face of her mistress. (3) I think therefore that there are three causes for flight–hatred, fear, and shame. Now women leave their husbands out of hatred, and for the same reason men desert their wives. But children flee from their parents, and servants from their masters, out of fear. And lastly, friends avoid their companions out of shame, when they have done anything which is displeasing to them. And before now I have known instances of fathers who have led a life of effeminate luxury, reverencing the austere and philosophical lives of their sons, and out of shame preferring to live in the country rather than in the city. (4) Now of all these three causes, one may find instances revealed in the sacred scriptures. Accordingly, Jacob, the practiser of virtue, fled from his father-in-law Laban out of hatred, and from his brother Esau out of fear, as I shall show presently. (5) But Hagar flees out of shame. And a proof of this is, that the angel, that is the word of God, met her, with the intent to recommend her what she ought to do, and to guide her in her return to her mistress’s house. For he encouraged her, and said unto her: “The Lord has heard the cry of thy humiliation,” which you uttered, not out of fear, nor yet out of hatred. For the one is the feeling of an ignoble soul, and the other of one which loves contention, but under the influence of that copy of temperance and modesty, shame. (6) For it was natural, if she had fled out of fear, that he would have encouraged her mistress, who was holding out threats to alarm her, to comfort her, and to restore her to tranquillity. For then it would have been safe for the fugitive to return, and not before. But no one intercedes for her to her mistress, inasmuch as she was already appeased by herself. But this angel, who is reproof, at the same time friendly and full of advice, out of his goodwill teaches her not to feel only shame, but also to entertain confidence, for that modesty is but half a virtue, when separated from proper boldness.