XXXVII. (201) When, therefore, the virtuous man knew that the promise was uttering things full of reverence and prudent caution, according to his own mind, he admitted both these feelings into his breast, namely, faith in God, and incredulity as to the creature. Very naturally therefore he says, using the language of entreaty, “Would that this Ishmael might live before Thee,”{73}{#ge 17:18.} using each word of those which he utters here with deliberate propriety, namely, the “this,” the “might live,” the “before thee.” (202) For it is no small number of persons who have been deceived by the similarity of the names of different things, and we had better examine here what I am saying. The name of Ishmael, being interpreted, means “the hearing of God,” but some men listen to the divine doctrines to their benefit, and others listen to both his admonitions and to those of others only to their destruction. Do you recollect the case of the soothsayer Balaam?{74}{#nu 24:17.} He is represented as hearing the oracles of God, and as having received knowledge from the Most High, (203) but what advantage did he reap from such hearing, and what good accrued to him from such knowledge? In his intention he endeavored to injure the most excellent eye of the soul, which alone has received such instruction as to be able to behold God, but he was unable to do so by reason of the invincible power of the Saviour; therefore, being overthrown by his own insane wickedness, and having received many wounds, he perished amid the heaps of wounded, {75}{#nu 31:8.} because he had stamped beforehand the divinely inspired prophecies with the sophistry of the soothsayers. (204) Very righteously, therefore, does the good man pray that this his only son, Ishmael, may be sound in mind and health, because of those persons who do not listen in a sincere spirit to the sacred admonitions, whom Moses has expressly forbidden to come into the assembly of the Ruler of the universe, (205) for those men are broken as to the generative parts of their minds, or are even rendered completely impotent in that respect, who magnify their own minds, and their external sense, as the only causes of all the events which take place among men; and there are others who are lovers of a system of polytheism, and who honour the company which is devoted to the service of many gods, being the sons of a harlot, having no knowledge of the one husband and father of the virtue-loving soul, namely, God; and are not all these men very properly driven away and banished from the assembly of God? (206) They appear to me very much to resemble those parents who accuse their sons of intemperance in wine, for they say, “This our son is Disobedient,”{76}{#de 21:20.} indicating, by the addition of the word “this,” that they have other sons likewise who are temperate and self-denying, and who obey the injunctions of right reason and instruction; for these are the most genuine parents, by whom it is a most disgraceful thing to be accused, and a most glorious thing to be praised. (207) Then as to the words, “This is Aaron and Moses, whom God directed to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt,”{77}{#ex 6:26.} and the expression, “These are those who conversed with Pharaoh the king.” Let us not think that they are used superfluously, or that they do not convey some intimations beyond the mere open meaning of the words; (208) for since Moses is the purest mind, and Aaron is his speech, and moreover, since the mind has been taught to think of divine things in a divine manner, and since the speech has learnt to interpret holy things in holy language, the sophists imitating them, and adulterating the genuine coinage, say, that they also conceive rightly, and speak in a praiseworthy manner about what is most excellent. In order, therefore, that we may not be deceived by a placing of the base money in juxtaposition with the good, by reason of the similitude of the impression, he has given us a test by which they may be distinguished. (209) What then is the test? To bring out of the region of the body the mind, endowed with the power of seeing, fond of contemplation and philosophical; for he who can do this is the same Moses; and he who is unable really to do so, but who is only said to be able, and who makes professions with infinite pomp and magnitude of language, is laughed at. But he prays that Ishmael may live, not meaning to refer to the life in conjunction with the body, but he prays that the divine voice, dwelling for evermore in his soul, may awaken and vivify it.