XVII. (103) And indeed the scriptures at one time call the father-in-law of the first prophets Jother, and at another time Raguel-Jother, when pride is flourishing and at its height; for the name Jother being interpreted means “superfluous,” and pride is superfluous in an honest and sincere life, turning into ridicule, as it does, all that is equal and necessary to life, and honouring the unequal things of excess and covetousness. (104) This passion honours human things above divine, and customs above laws, and profane above sacred things, and mortal above immortal things, and, in short, appearances above reality; and it even ventures of its accord to pass on into the rank of counsellors, suggesting to the wise man not to teach those things which alone are worthy to be known, namely, “the commandments of God, and the Law,”{34}{#ex 18:11.} but to study the covenants and contracts of men with one another, which are almost the causes of the society which exists among them being so little sociable. But the great man is obedient in all things, thinking that little things are adapted to little people, and that great things are justly added to the great; (105) but very often this man who is wise in his own conceit, and who, passing over from the herds which the blind had assigned to him for him to guide, having sought out the divine herd, becomes no small portion of it; admiring the leader of nature, and marvelling at his way of leading which he employs in his care of his own flocks, for the name Raguel being interpreted, signifies the “pastoral care of God.”{35}{#ex 2:18.}

XVIII. (106) The main part has now been explained; we will now proceed to adduce the proofs. In the first place the scripture represents him as the cultivator of judgment and of justice, for the name Midian, being interpreted, means “out of judgment.” And this is said in a twofold sense, for some times it signifies both selection and rejection, such as usually happens to those who are competitors in those contests which are called sacred; for numbers as they appear not qualified, are rejected by the masters of the games. (107) These are the men who have been initiated in the unholy rites of Beelphegor, {36}{#nu 25:3.} and having widened all the mouths of the body to enable them to receive the streams which are poured into them from without, for the name Beelphegor is interpreted “the mouth above the skin,” for they have overwhelmed the mind, the governor of the body, and have sunk it down to the lowest depth, so that it can never emerge, nor even hold up its head in ever so slight a degree. (108) And it suffered this until Phineas, the lover of peace and manifest priest of God, came as a champion of his own accord, being by nature a hater of all that is evil, and filled with an admiration and desire for what is good; and as he took a coadjutor, that is to say, the well sharpened and sharp-edged sword, competent to investigate and examine everything, he could not be deceived, but exerting a vigorous strength, he pierced passion through her womb, that it might not hereafter bring forth any divinely caused evil. (109) Now between these men and the seeing race there is a terrible war, in which no one of the combatants differed in language, {37}{#ex 31:29} but each returned home unwounded and safe, crowned with the garlands of victory.