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APOLOGY FOR THE JEWS

From Eusebius, P.E. 8.5.11 ff.

(5.11) And first of all I will adduce what Philo says respecting the journey of the Jews into Egypt, of which he has given an account, following that which is given by Moses in the first book of the Pentateuch, to which he has affixed the superscription, “hypothetically;” where, arguing in behalf of the Jews as if he were addressing himself to their accusers, he speaks in the following manner, affirming, —

(6.1) That their ancient ancestor, the original founder of their race, was a Chaldaean; and that this people emigrated from Egypt, after having in former times left its abode in Syria, being very numerous and consisting of countless myriads of people; and that when the land was no longer able to contain them, and moreover when a high spirit began to show itself in the dispositions of their young men, and when, besides this, God himself by visions and dreams began to show them that he willed that they should depart, and when, as the Deity brought it about, nothing was less an object of desire to them than their ancient native land; on that account this ancestor of theirs departed and journeyed into Egypt, whether in consequence of some express determination of God, or whether it was in consequence of some prophetic instinct of his own; so that from that time to the present the nation has had an existence and a durability, and has become so exceedingly populous, as it is at this moment. (6.2) And then, after a few more sentences, he says, –And they were led in this journey and emigration of theirs by a man who, if you will have it so, was in no respect superior to the generality of his fellow countrymen, so incessantly did they reproach him as a trickster and one who deceived them with words. An admirable amount and kind of trickery and deceit no doubt it was, by which he not only completely saved the whole people which was oppressed by want of water and hunger, and by ignorance of the way, and in a complete state of destitution of all things, and led them forward as if in all prosperity, and conducted them through all the nations lying around, and kept them without any quarrelling with one another, and in a state of complete subordination and obedience to himself. (6.3) And this too, not for a short time, but for a period of such length, that it is not likely that even a single family would continue in perfect unanimity and prosperity for such a time; for no thirst, no hunger, no decay of body, nor fear of the future, no ignorance of what was to befall them, ever excited that deceived people, who were being led, as some will have it, to their destruction, to rise against him who was deceiving them. Yet what would you have us say? (6.4) That he had such excessive art, or such great eloquence of speech, or such shrewdness, that he could triumph over so many difficulties of such a nature, which seemed likely to lead to the destruction of them all? Surely you must confess, either that the natures of the men under him were not utterly ignorant or obstinate, but were obedient and not inclined to neglect a prudent care of the future; or else that they were as wicked and perverse as possible, but that God softened their obstinacy, and was, as it were, a leader to them in respect both of the present and of the future. For that of these alternatives which appears to you to be the truest of the two, appears equally to contribute to the praise, and honour, and admiration of the whole nation. (6.5) These things, then, are what I have to say about this exodus. But when they came into this land, how they were settled here, and how they got possession of the country, they show in their sacred records. And I moreover do not think it necessary to describe it as by way of history, but rather to enter into some speculations concerning them as to what was their natural and likely course. (6.6) For which of these two alternatives will you embrace? That while they were still very numerous, although at last they were evilly afflicted, still, while they were powerful and had arms in their hands, they took the country by force, fighting with and defeating both the Syrians and Phoenicians who met them in that their land? Or shall we suppose that they were unwarlike, and destitute of manly courage, and altogether deficient in point of numbers, and destitute of any supplies for war; but that they met with respectful treatment from those nations, and obtained their land from them, who willingly surrendered it to them? and that then immediately, or at no distant period, they built a temple, and did everything else which has any bearing on religion and piety? (6.7) For these circumstances, as it seems, would prove them to have been a God-loving people, and beloved by God, and confessed to be such even by their enemies; for those people into whose territories they had suddenly come, as if to deprive them of them, were of necessity their enemies. (6.8) And if they met with respectful treatment and honour from them, how can we deny that they surpassed all other men in good fortune? And what shall we say after this in the second place, or in the third place? Shall we speak of their admirable code of laws, of their obedience, or of their devotion, and justice, and holiness, and piety? But in truth they looked upon that man, whoever he was, who gave them these laws, with such excessive admiration and veneration, that whatever he approved of they immediately thought best also. (6.9) Therefore, whether he spoke, being influenced by his own reason, or because he was inspired by the Deity, they referred every word of his to God. And though many years have passed, I cannot tell the exact number, but more than two thousand, still they have never altered one word of what was written by him, but would rather endure to die ten thousand times than to do any thing in opposition to his laws and to the customs which he established. (6.10) After Philo has said this, he proceeds to give an abridgment of the constitution established in the nation of the Jews by the laws of Moses, speaking thus:–

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