XXXV. (2.234) Moses therefore describes the perfect man as being neither God nor man, but, as I said before, something on the border between uncreated and the perishable nature. Again, he classes him who is improving and advancing towards perfection in the region between the dead and the living, meaning by the “living” those persons who dwell with wisdom, and by “the dead” those who rejoice in folly; (2.235) for it is said with respect to Aaron, that “He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was Stayed.”{105}{#nu 16:48.} For he who is making progress is not reckoned among those who are dead as to the life of virtue, inasmuch as he has a desire and admiration of what is honourable, nor among those who are living in extreme and perfect prosperity, for there is still something wanting to the end, but he touches both extremes; (2.236) on which account the expression, “the plague was stayed,” is very properly used rather than “the plague ceased;” for in those who are perfect the things which break, and crush, and destroy the soul cease; but in those who are advancing towards perfection, they are only diminished, as if they were only cut short and checked.

XXXVI. (2.237) Since then all steadiness, and stability, and the abiding for ever in the same place unchangeably and immovably, is first of all seen in the living God, and next in the word of the living God, which he has called his covenant; and in the third place in the wise man, and in the fourth degree in him who is advancing towards perfection, what could induce the wicked mind, which is liable to all sorts of curses, to think that it is able to stand by itself, while it is in reality borne about as in a deluge, and dragged hither and thither by the incessant eddies of things flowing in through the dead and agitated body? (2.238) “For I thought,” says the scripture, “that I was standing on the bank of the River:”{106}{#ge 41:17.} and by the word river we say that speech is symbolically meant, since both these things are borne outward, and flow on with a vigourous and sustained speed. And the one is at one time filled up with a great abundance of water, and the other with a quantity of verbs and nouns, and at another time they are both empty and relaxed, and in a state of quiescence; (2.239) again, they are of use inasmuch as the one irrigates the fields, and the other fertilizes the souls of those who receive it. And at times they are injurious by reason of overflowing, as then the one deluges the land on its borders, and the other troubles and confuses the reason of those who do not attend to it. (2.240) Therefore speech is compared to a river, and the nature of speech is twofold, the one sort being better and the other worse; that is, the better kind which does good, and that of necessity is the worse kind which does harm; (2.241) and Moses has given most conspicuous examples of each kind to those who are able to see, for he says, “For a river goes out of Eden to water the Paradise, and from thence it is divided into four Branches:”{107}{genesis 2:10.} (2.242) and by the name Eden he means the wisdom of the living God, and the interpretation of the name Eden is “delight,” because I imagine wisdom is the delight of God, and God is the delight of wisdom, as it is said also in the Psalms, “Delight thou in the Lord.”{108}{psalm 36:4.} And the divine word, like a river, flows forth from wisdom as from a spring, in order to irrigate and fertilize the celestial and heavenly shoots and plants of such souls as love virtue, as if they were a paradise. (2.243) And this sacred word is divided into four beginnings, by which I mean it is portioned out into four virtues, each of which is a princess, for to be divided into beginnings, {109}{there is an unavoidable obscurity in the translation here. The Greek word archai, which means beginnings, or principles, and also governments.} does not resemble divisions of place, but a kingdom, in order than any one, after having shown the virtues as boundaries, may immediately proceed to show the wise man who follows them to be king, being elected a such, not by men, but by the only free nature which cannot err, and which cannot be corrupted; (2.244) for those who behold the excellence of Abraham say unto him, “Thou art a king, sent from God among Us:”{110}{#ge 23:6.} proposing as a maxim, for those who study philosophy, that the wise man alone is a ruler and a king, and that virtue is the only irresponsible authority and sovereignty.