III. (2.17) Now the character of Joseph is sketched out by the foregoing outlines. But each of his dreams must be investigated with accuracy; and first of all we must examine the one about the sheaves. “I thought,” says he, “that we were all binding sheaves.” The expression, “I thought,” is clearly that of a person who is not certain, but who is hesitating and supposing with some amount of indistinctness, not of one who sees positively and clearly; (2.18) for it is very natural for persons just awakening out of a deep sleep, and still dozing at it were, to say, “I thought;” but not so for people who are thoroughly awake, and who can see distinctly. (2.19) And the practiser of virtue, Jacob, does not say, “I thought,” but his language is, “Behold, a ladder firmly set, the head of which reached up to Heaven.”{66}{#ge 28:12.} And again he says, when “the sheep conceived I saw them with my eyes in my sleep, and behold the he-goats and the rams leapt upon the ewes and upon the she-goats, white, and variegated, and ring-straked, and Speckled.”{67}{#ge 31:10.} (2.20) For it happens of necessity that the sleeping conceptions also of those who think what is honourable and eligible for its own sake and more distinct and more pure, just as their waking actions are also more deserving of approbation.

IV. (2.21) But when I hear Jacob relating his dream I marvel at his having fancied that he was binding up the sheaves, and not reaping the corn; for the one is the task of the lower classes and of servants, but the other is the occupation of the employers, and of men more skilled in agriculture. (2.22) For to be able to distinguish what is necessary from what is mischievous, and what is nutritious from what is not so, and what is genuine from what is spurious, and useful fruit from a worthless root, not only in reference to those things which the land bears, but also in those which the intellect bears, is the work of most perfect virtue. (2.23) Accordingly the holy scripture represents those who see, that is the sons of Israel, as reaping, and what is a most extraordinary thing, as reaping not barley or wheat, but the harvest itself; accordingly the language of Moses is, “When you reap your harvest, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your Harvest.”{68}{leviticus 19:9.} (2.24) For he means here that the virtuous man is not merely the judge of things which differ from one another, and that he does not only distinguish the things from which some produce is derived from the produce itself; but that he is able also to distinguish while reaping the harvest, to remove this opinion of his ability to distinguish, and to eradicate a man’s own opinion of himself; because he is firmly persuaded, and believes Moses when he affirms that “judgment belongs to God Alone,”{69}{#de 1:17.} with whom are the comparisons and distinctions between all things; to whom it is well for a man to confess that he is inferior, a confession more glorious than the most renowned victory. (2.25) Now the reaping a harvest is like cutting a second time what has been cut already; which when some persons fond of novelty applied themselves to they found a circumcision of circumcision, and a purification of purification; {70}{#nu 6:2.} that is to say, they found that the purification of the soul was itself purified, attributing the power of making bright to God, and never fancying that they themselves were competent, without the assistance of the divine wisdom, to wash and cleanse a life which is full of stains. (2.26) Akin to this is the double cave, which is a symbol of the twofold and excellent recollections (the one existing in reference to the creature, and the other to the Creator), in which the virtuous man is bred up, contemplating the things which are in the world, and being also fond of inquiring about the father who made them; (2.27) and it is owing to these twofold recollections, in my opinion, that the double symphony in music, that of the double diapason, was invented. (2.28) For it was necessary that the work and the creator should be made happy in two most perfect melodies, and not both in the same one. For since the excellencies which were to be celebrated by them differed from one another, it followed of necessity that the melodies and symphonies should likewise differ from one another. The combined symphony being assigned to the world, which is a compound creation, composed of many different parts; and the disjoined melody being appropriated to him who, as to his essence, is separated from every creature, namely, to God. (2.29) Moreover, the interpreter of the sacred will again enunciates an opinion friendly to virtue, saying that it is not proper “to thoroughly reap every corner of the harvest field;” remembering the original proposition, according to which he agreed that “the tribute belonged to the Lord,”{71}{#nu 31:28.} to whom the authority and the conformation of these things also belong; (2.30) but he who is uninitiated in reaping boasts, so far as to say, “I thought that I was with the others binding up the sheaves which I had Reaped.”{72}{#ge 37:7.} And he does not consider that this is the occupation of servants and unskilled hands, as I have said a little while ago. (2.31) But this word sheaves is an allegorical expression by which affairs are really meant, such as each man takes in hand for the support of his house, in which he hopes to live and dwell for ever.