XVIII. (2.123) Moreover, it is only a very short time ago that I knew a man of very high rank, one who was prefect and governor of Egypt, who, after he had taken it into his head to change our national institutions and customs, and in an extraordinary manner to abrogate that most holy law guarded by such fearful penalties, which relates to the seventh day, and was compelling us to obey him, and to do other things contrary to our established custom, thinking that that would be the beginning of our departure from the other laws, and of our violation of all our national customs, if he were once able to destroy our hereditary and customary observance of the seventh day. (2.124) And as he saw that those to whom he offered violence did not yield to his injunctions, and that the rest of our people was not disposed to submit in tranquillity, but was indignant and furious at the business, and was mourning and dispirited as if at the enslaving, and overthrow, and utter destruction of their country; he thought fit to endeavour by a speech to persuade them to transgress, saying: (2.125) “If an invasion of enemies were to come upon you on a sudden, or the violence of a deluge, from the river having broken down all its barriers by an inundation, or any terrible fire, or a thunderbolt, or famine, or pestilence, or an earthquake, or any other evil, whether caused by men or inflicted by God, would you still remain quiet and unmoved at home? (2.126) And would you still go on in your habitual fashion, keeping your right hand back, and holding the other under your garments close to your sides, in order that you might not, even without meaning it, do anything to contribute to your own preservation? (2.127) And would you still sit down in your synagogues, collecting your ordinary assemblies, and reading your sacred volumes in security, and explaining whatever is not quite clear, and devoting all your time and leisure with long discussions to the philosophy of your ancestors? (2.128) Nay: rather shaking off all these ideas, you would gird yourselves up for the preservation of yourselves, and of your parents, and of your children, and, if one must tell the plain truth, of your possessions and treasures, to save them from being utterly destroyed. (2.129) And, indeed, I myself, am,” said he, “all the evils which I have just enumerated: I am a whirlwind, I am war, and deluge, and thunderbolt, and the calamity of famine, and the misery of pestilence, and an earthquake which shakes and overthrows what stood firm before, not being merely the name of a necessity of fate, but actual, visible power, standing close to you.” (2.130) What then can we say that a man who says, or who merely thinks such things as these, is? Is he not an evil of an extraordinary nature? He surely must be some foreign calamity, brought from over the sea, or from some other world, since he, a man in every respect miserable, has dared to compare himself to the all-blessed God. (2.131) We must likewise add, that he is daring here to utter blasphemies against the sun, and the moon, and the rest of the stars, whenever anything which had been looked for according to the seasons of the year, either does not happen at all, or is brought about with difficulty; if, for instance, the summer causes too much heat, or the winter too excessive a cold, or if the spring or autumn were unseasonable, so that the one were to become barren and unfruitful, and the other to be prolific only in diseases. (2.132) Therefore, giving all imaginable license to an unbridled mouth and abusive tongue, such a man will reproach the stars as not bringing their customary tribute, all but claiming for the things of earth the reverence and adoration of the heavenly bodies, and for himself above them all, in proportion as he, as being a man, looks upon himself as superior to the other animals.