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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9242
Philo Of Alexandria, On The Life Of Moses, 1.257


nanAnd Moses, rejoicing at the unexpected blessings which from time to time were presenting themselves to him, advanced further, dividing the youth of his people into the vanguard and the rearguard, and placing the old men, and the women, and thechildren in the centre, that they might be protected by those who were thus at each extremity, in the case of their having to encounter any force of the enemy either in front or behind.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

9 results
1. Hebrew Bible, Exodus, 4.10 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

4.10. And Moses said unto the LORD: ‘Oh Lord, I am not a man of words, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant; for I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.’"
2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Abraham, 68-80, 67 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

67. Therefore giving no consideration to anything whatever, neither to the men of his tribe, nor to those of his borough, nor to his fellow disciples, nor to his companions, nor those of his blood as sprung from the same father or the same mother, nor to his country, nor to his ancient habits, nor to the customs in which he had been brought up, nor to his mode of life and his mates, every one of which things has a seductive and almost irresistible attraction and power, he departed as speedily as possible, yielding to a free and unrestrained impulse, and first of all he quitted the land of the Chaldaeans, a prosperous district, and one which was greatly flourishing at that period, and went into the land of Charran, and from that, after no very distant interval, he departed to another place, which we will speak of hereafter, when we have first discussed the country of Charran. XV.
3. Philo of Alexandria, On Curses, 58 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

58. On which account, a man would not be wrong who called our minds the sun of our composition; as the mind, if it does not rise and shed its own light in man, who may be looked upon as a small world, leaves a great darkness diffused over all existing things, and suffers nothing to be brought to light. XVII.
4. Philo of Alexandria, On The Sacrifices of Cain And Abel, 135 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

135. for the departure of wickedness brings about the entrance of virtue, as, on the other hand, when what is good is driven away, then what was bad, having been lying in ambush, comes in to supply the void. Jacob then had scarcely at all gone out, when Esau entered, not the mind which receives everything, being stamped with the impression of wickedness instead of the figures of virtue, if that is possible; but he would not have been able to effect this, for he will be supplanted and overthrown by the wise man before he knows it, the wise man being prompt to repel the impending injury before it can affect him. XL.
5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Virtues, 213-219, 212 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

212. The most ancient person of the Jewish nation was a Chaldaean by birth, born of a father who was very skilful in astronomy, and famous among those men who pass their lives in the study of mathematics, who look upon the stars as gods, and worship the whole heaven and the whole world; thinking, that from them do all good and all evil proceed, to every individual among men; as they do not conceive that there is any cause whatever, except such as are included among the objects of the outward senses.
6. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Moses, 1.48, 1.83-1.84, 1.158-1.159, 1.237-1.238, 1.243-1.244, 1.247-1.249, 1.254, 1.263-1.318, 1.334 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.48. But while he was preparing to display the decision which he was about to pronounce, Moses was devoting himself to all the labours of virtue, having a teacher within himself, virtuous reason, by whom he had been trained to the most virtuous pursuits of life, and had learnt to apply himself to the contemplation and practice of virtue and to the continual study of the doctrines of philosophy, which he easily and thoroughly comprehended in his soul, and committed to memory in such a manner as never to forget them; and, moreover, he made all his own actions, which were intrinsically praiseworthy, to harmonise with them, desiring not to seem wise and good, but in truth and reality to be so, because he made the right reason of nature his only aim; which is, in fact, the only first principle and fountain of all the virtues. 1.83. But though he believed the words of God, nevertheless he tried to avoid the office to which God was appointing him, urging that he was a man of a weak voice, and slow of speech, and not eloquent, and especially so ever since he had heard God himself speaking. For judging the greatest human eloquence to be mere speechlessness in comparison with the truth, and being also prudent and cautious by nature, he shrunk from the undertaking, thinking such great matters proper for proud and bold men and not for him. And he entreated God to choose some one else who would be able easily to accomplish all the commands which he thus laid upon him. 1.84. But he approved of his modesty, and said, "Art thou ignorant who it is that giveth to man a mouth, and who has formed his windpipe and his tongue, and all the apparatus of the articulate voice? I am he. Therefore, fear thou nothing. For when I approve, every thing will become articulate and clear, and will change for the better, and improve; so that no one shall hinder thee, but the stream of thy words shall flow forth in a rapid and smooth current as if from a pure fountain. And if there is any need of an interpreter, thou shalt have thy brother, who will be a subordinate mouthpiece for thee, that he may utter to the multitude the words which he receives from thee, while thou utterest to him the words that thou receivest from God. 1.158. What more shall I say? Has he not also enjoyed an even greater communion with the Father and Creator of the universe, being thought unworthy of being called by the same appellation? For he also was called the god and king of the whole nation, and he is said to have entered into the darkness where God was; that is to say, into the invisible, and shapeless, and incorporeal world, the essence, which is the model of all existing things, where he beheld things invisible to mortal nature; for, having brought himself and his own life into the middle, as an excellently wrought picture, he established himself as a most beautiful and Godlike work, to be a model for all those who were inclined to imitate him. 1.159. And happy are they who have been able to take, or have even diligently laboured to take, a faithful copy of this excellence in their own souls; for let the mind, above all other parts, take the perfect appearance of virtue, and if that cannot be, at all events let it feel an unhesitating and unvarying desire to acquire that appearance; 1.237. This was the reason why they did not arrive sooner in the land which they went forth to colonize; for though they might, in the second year after their departure from Egypt, have conquered all the cities in Syria, and divided the inheritance amongst themselves, still they turned aside from the direct and short road, and wandered about, using one long, and difficult, and pathless line of march after another, so as to be incessantly toiling both in soul and body, and enduring the necessary and deserved punishment of their excessive impiety: 1.238. accordingly, for eight and thirty years more, after the two years which I have already mentioned as having elapsed, the life of a complete generation of mankind did they wander up and down, traversing the pathless wilderness; and at last in the fortieth year, they with difficulty came to the borders of the country which they had reached so many years before. 1.243. Therefore Moses, the leader of the Hebrews, although he might with one single effort, aye with the mere shout of his army, have subdued the whole nation, still, by reason of the aforesaid relationship did not think fit to do so; but desired only to use the road through their country, promising that he would in every respect observe the treaties between them, and not despoil them of territory, or cattle, or of any booty, that he would even pay a price for water if there should be a scarcity of drink, and for anything else that they might require to buy, as not being supplied with it; but they violently rejected their peaceful invitations, threatening them with war, if they heard of their crossing over their borders or even of their setting foot upon them. 1.244. But as the Hebrews received their answer with great indignation, and prepared at once to oppose them, Moses stood in a place from whence he would be well heard, and said, "O men, your indignation is reasonable and just; for though we, in a peaceable disposition, have made them good and friendly offers, they have made us an evil reply out of their evil and perverse disposition. 1.247. and this was the most manifest proof of their sorrow, which they felt in consequence of the nation having obtained their liberty, namely when they rejoiced when they were enduring that bitter slavery of theirs in Egypt; for it follows of necessity that those men to whom the good fortune of their neighbours causes grief, do also rejoice at their evil fortune, even if they do not admit that they do so; 1.248. for they had already related to their neighbours, as to persons in accordance with themselves, and cherishing the same thoughts, all the misfortunes and also all the agreeable pieces of good fortune which had happened to them, not knowing that they had proceeded to a great degree of iniquity, and that they were full of unfriendly, and hostile, and malicious thoughts towards them, so that they were like to grieve at their good fortune, but to rejoice at any thing of a contrary tendency. 1.249. But when their malevolence was fully revealed, the Hebrews were nevertheless restrained from coming to open war with them by their ruler, who thus displayed two most excellent qualities at the same time; namely prudence and a compassionate disposition; for to take care that no evil should happen to any one is the part of wisdom, and not to be willing even to repel one's own kinsmen is a proof of a humane disposition. 1.254. for, as every pious man offers unto God the first fruits of the fruits of the year, which he collects from his own possessions, so in the same manner did the Hebrews dedicate the whole nation of this mighty country into which they had come as settlers, and that great spoil, the kingdom which they had so speedily subdued, as a sort of first-fruit of their colony; for they did not think it consistent with piety to distribute the land among themselves, or to inherit the cities, before they had offered up to God the first fruits of that country and of those cities. 1.263. This war struck all the Asiatic nations with terrible consternation, and especially all those who were near the borders of the Amorites, inasmuch as they looked upon the dangers as being nearer to themselves. Accordingly, one of the neighbouring kings, by name Balak, who ruled over a large and thickly inhabited country of the east, before he met them in battle, feeling great distrust of his own power, did not think fit to meet them in close combat, being desirous to avoid carrying on a war of extermination by open arms; but he had recourse to inquiries and divination, thinking that by some kind of ruse or other he might be able to overthrow the irresistible power of the Hebrews. 1.264. Now there was a man at that time very celebrated for his skill in divination, dwelling in Mesopotamia, who was initiated in every branch of the soothsayers' art. And he was celebrated and renowned above all men for his experience as a diviner and prophet, as he had in many instances foretold to many people incredible and most important events; 1.265. for, on one occasion, he had predicted heavy rain to one nation at the height of summer; to another he had foretold a drought and burning heat in the middle of winter. Others he had forewarned of a dearth which should follow a season of abundance; and, on the other hand, plenty after famine. In some instances he had predicted the inundations of rivers; or, on the contrary, their falling greatly and becoming dried up; and the departure of pestilential diseases, and ten thousand other things. From all which he had obtained a name of wide celebrity, as he was believed to have foreseen them all, and so he had attained to great renown and his glory had spread everywhere and was continually increasing. 1.266. So this man, Balak, now sent some of his companions, entreating him to come to him, and he gave him some presents at once, and he promised to give him others also, explaining to him the necessity which he was in, on account of which he had sent for him. But he did not treat the messengers with any noble or consistent disposition, but with great courtesy and civility evaded their request, as if he were one of the most celebrated prophets, and as such was accustomed to do nothing whatever without first consulting the oracle, and so he declined, saying that the Deity would not permit him to go with them. 1.267. So the messengers returned back to the king, without having succeeded in their errand. And immediately other messengers of the highest rank in the whole land were sent on the same business, bringing with them more abundant presents of money, and promising still more ample rewards than the former ambassadors had promised. 1.268. And Balaam, being allured by the gifts which were already proffered to him, and also by the hopes for the future which they held out to him, and being influenced also by the rank of those who invited him, began to yield, again alleging the commands of the Deity as his excuse, but no longer with sincerity. Accordingly, on the next day he prepared for his departure, relating some dreams by which he said he had been influenced, affirming that he had been compelled by their manifest visions not to remain, but to follow the ambassadors. 1.269. But when he was on his road a very manifest sign met him in the way, showing him plainly that the purpose for which he was travelling was displeasing to God, and ill-omened; for the beast on which he was riding, while proceeding onwards in the straight road, at first stopped suddenly 1.270. then, as if some one was forcibly resisting it, or standing in front and driving it back by force, it retreated, moving first to the right and then to the left, and could not stand still, but kept moving, first to one side and then to the other, as if it had been under the influence of wine and intoxication; and though it was repeatedly beaten, it disregarded the blows, so that it very nearly threw its rider, and though he stuck on did still hurt him considerably; 1.271. for close on each side of the path there were walls and strong fences; therefore, when the beast in its violent motions struck heavily against the walls, the owner had his knee, and leg, and foot pressed and crushed, and was a good deal lacerated. 1.272. The truth is, that there was, as it seems, a divine vision, which, as the beast, on which the diviner was seeking, saw at a great distance as it was coming towards him, and it was frightened at it; but the man did not see it, which was a proof of his insensibility, for he was thus shown to be inferior to a brute beast in the power of sight, at a time when he was boasting that he could see, not only the whole world, but also the Creator of the world. 1.273. Accordingly, having after some time seen the angel opposing him, not because he was desiring to see so astonishing a spectacle, but that he might become acquainted with his own insignificance and nothingness, he betook himself to supplications and prayers, entreating to be pardoned, on the ground that he had acted as he had done out of ignorance, and had not sinned of deliberate purpose. 1.274. Then, as he said that he ought to return back again, he asked of the vision which appeared to him, whether he should go back again to his own house; but the angel beholding his insincerity, and being indigt at it (for what need was there for him to ask questions in a matter which was so evident, which had its answer plain in itself, and which did not require any more positive information by means of words, unless a person's ears are more to be trusted than his eyes, and words than thing 1.275. But when the king heard that he was now near at hand, he went forth with his guards to meet him; and when they met at first there were, as was natural, greetings and salutations, and then a brief reproof of his tardiness and of his not having come more readily. After this there were feastings and costly entertainments, and all those other things which are usually prepared on the occasion of the reception of strangers, everything with royal magnificence being prepared, so as to give an exaggerated idea of the power and glory of the king. 1.276. The next day at the rising of the sun, Balak took the prophet and led him up to a high hill, where it also happened that a pillar had been erected to some deity which the natives of the country had been accustomed to worship; and from thence there was seen a portion of the camp of the Hebrews, which was shown to the magician from this point, as if from a watch tower. 1.277. And he when he beheld it said: "Do thou, O king, build here seven altars, and offer upon every one of them a bullock and a ram. And I will turn aside and inquire of God what I am to say." So, having gone forth, immediately he became inspired, the prophetic spirit having entered into him, which drove all his artificial system of divination and cunning out of his soul; for it was not possible that holy inspiration should dwell in the same abode with magic. Then, returning back to the king, and beholding the sacrifices and the altars flaming, he became like the interpreter of some other being who was prompting his words 1.278. and spoke in prophetic strain as follows: "Balak has sent for me from Mesopotamia, having caused me to take a long journey from the east, that he might chastise the Hebrews by means of curses. But in what manner shall I be able to curse those who have not been cursed by God? For I shall behold them with my eyes from the loftiest mountains, and I shall see them with my mind; and I shall never be able to injure the people which shall dwell alone, not being numbered among the other nations, not in accordance with the inheritance of any particular places, or any apportionment of lands, but by reason of the peculiar nature of their remarkable customs, as they will never mingle with any other nation so as to depart from their national and ancestral ways. 1.279. Who has ever discovered with accuracy the first origin of the birth of these people? Their bodies, indeed, may have been fashioned according to human means of propagation; but their souls have been brought forth by divine agency, wherefore they are nearly related to God. May my soul die as to the death of the body, that it may be remembered among the souls of the righteous, such as the souls of these men are. 1.280. When Balak heard these words he was grieved within himself; and after he had stopped speaking, not being able to contain his sorrow, he said: "You were invited hither to curse my enemies, and are you not ashamed to offer up prayers for their good? I must, without knowing it, have been deceiving myself, thinking you a friend; who were, on the contrary, without my being aware of it, enrolled among the ranks of the enemy, as is now plain. Perhaps, too, you made all the delay in coming to me by reason of the regard for them, which you were secretly cherishing in your soul, and your secret dislike to me and to my people; for, as the old proverb says, what is apparent affords the best means of judging of what is not visible. 1.281. But Balaam, his moment of inspiration being now past, replied: "I am exposed in this to a most unjust charge, and am undeservedly accused; for I am saying nothing of my own, but whatever the Deity prompts me to say. And this is not the first time that I have said and that you have heard this, but I declared it on the former occasion when you sent the ambassadors, to whom I made the same answer. 1.282. But as the king thought either that the prophet was deceiving him, or that the Deity might change his mind, and the consequence of a change of place might alter the firmness of his decision, he led him off to another spot, where, from an exceedingly long, and high, and distant hill, he might be able to show him a part of the army of his enemies. Then, again, he built seven altars and sacrificed the same number of victims that he had sacrificed at first, and sent the prophet to look for favourable omens and predictions. 1.283. And he, as soon as he was by himself, was again suddenly filled by divine inspiration, and, without at all understanding the words which he uttered, spoke everything that was put into his mouth, prophesying in the following manner:--"Rise up and listen, O king! prick up thy ears and hear. God is not able to speak falsely as if he were a man, nor does he change his purpose like the son of man. When he has once spoken, does he not abide by his word? For he will say nothing at all which shall not be completely brought to pass, since his word is also his deed. I, indeed, have been brought hither to bless this nation, and not to curse it. 1.284. There shall be no labour or distress among the Hebrews. God visibly holds his shield over them, who also dissipated the violence of the Egyptian attacks, leading forth all these myriads of people as one man. Therefore they disregarded auguries and every other part of the prophetic art, trusting to the one sole Governor of the world alone. And I see the people rising up like a young lion, and exulting as a lion. He shall feast on the prey, and for drink he shall drink the blood of the wounded; and, when he is satisfied, he shall not turn to sleep, but he shall be awake and sing the song of victory. 1.285. But Balak, being very indigt at finding that all the assistance which he expected to derive from divination was turning out contrary to his hopes, said: "O man, neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all; for silence, which is free from danger, is better than unpleasant speeches." And when he had said this, as if he had forgotten what he had said, owing to the inconstancy of his mind, he led the prophet to another place, from which he could show him a part of the Hebrew army; and again he invited him to curse them. 1.286. But the prophet, as being even more wicked than the king, although he had always replied to the accusations which were brought against him with one true excuse, namely, that he was saying nothing out of his own head, but was only interpreting the words of another, being himself carried away and inspired, when he ought no longer to have accompanied him but to have gone away home, ran forward even more eagerly than his conductor, although in his secret thoughts he was oppressed by a heavy feeling of evil, yet still desired in his mind to curse this people, though he was forbidden to do so with his mouth. 1.287. So, coming to a mountain greater than any of those on which he had stood before, and which reached a very long way, he bade the king perform the same sacrifices as before, again building seven altars, and again offering up fourteen victims, on each altar two, a bullock and a ram. And he himself did no longer, according to his usual custom, go to seek for divination and auguries, since he much loathed his art, looking upon it as a picture which had become defaced through age, and had been obscured, and lost its felicity of conjecture. But he now, though with difficulty, understood the fact that the designs of the king, who had hired him, did not correspond with the will of God. 1.288. Therefore, turning to the wilderness, he saw the Hebrews encamped in their tribes, and he saw their numbers and their array, and admired it as being like the order of a city rather than of a camp, and, becoming inspired, he again spoke. 1.289. What, then, said the man who saw truly, who in his sleep saw a clear vision of God with the ever open and sleepless eyes of his soul? "How goodly are thy abodes, O army of Hebrews; they tents are shady as groves, as a paradise on the bank of a river, as a cedar by the waters. 1.290. A man shall hereafter come forth out of thee who shall rule over many nations, and his kingdom shall increase every day and be raised up to heaven. This people hath God for its guide all the way from Egypt, who leads on their multitude in one line. 1.291. Therefore they shall devour many nations of their enemies, and they shall take all their fat as far as their very marrow, and shall destroy their enemies with their far-shooting arrows. He shall lie down to rest like a lion, and like a lion's whelp, fearing no one, but showing great contempt for every one, and causing fear to all other nations. Miserable is he who shall stir up and rouse him to anger. Blessed are they that bless thee, and cursed are they that curse thee. 1.292. And the king, being very indigt at these words, said: "Having been invited hither to curse my enemies, you have now prayed for and blessed them these three times. Fly, therefore, quickly, passion is a hasty affection, lest I be compelled to do something more violent than usual. 1.293. of what a vast amount of money, O most foolish of men, of how many presents, and of how much renown, and celebrity, and glory, hast thou deprived thyself in thy madness! Now you will return to thy home from a foreign land, bearing with thee no good thing, but only reproaches and (as it seems likely 1.294. And Balaam replied: "All that I have hitherto uttered have been oracles and words of God; but what I am going to say are merely the suggestions of my own mind: and taking him by the right hand, he, while they two were alone, gave him advice, by the adoption of which he might, as far as possible, guard against the power of his enemies, accusing himself of the most enormous crimes. For why, some one may perhaps say, do you thus retire into solitude and give counsel suggesting things contrary to the oracles of God, unless indeed that your counsels are more powerful than his decrees? 1.295. Come, then, let us examine into his fine recommendations, and see how cunningly they were contrived with reference to the most certain defeat of those who had hitherto always been able to conquer. As he knew that the only way by which the Hebrews could be subdued was by leading them to violate the law, he endeavoured to seduce them by means of debauchery and intemperance, that mighty evil, to the still greater crime of impiety, putting pleasure before them as a bait; 1.296. for, said he, "O king! the women of the country surpass all other women in beauty, and there are no means by which a man is more easily subdued than by the beauty of a woman; therefore, if you enjoin the most beautiful of them to grant their favours to them and to prostitute themselves to them, they will allure and overcome the youth of your enemies. 1.297. But you must warn them not to surrender their beauty to those who desire them with too great facility and too speedily, for resistance and coyness will stimulate the passions and excite them more, and will kindle a more impetuous desire; and so, being wholly subdued by their appetites, they will endure to do and to suffer anything. 1.298. And let any damsel who is thus prepared for the sport resist, and say, wantonly, to a lover who is thus influenced, "It is not fitting for you to enjoy my society till you have first abandoned your native habits, and have changed, and learnt to honour the same practices that I do. And I must have a conspicuous proof of your real change, which I can only have by your consenting to join me in the same sacrifices and libations which I use, and which we may then offer together at the same images and statues, and other erections in honour of my gods. 1.299. And the lover being, as it were, taken in the net of her manifold and multiform snares, not being able to resist her beauty and seductive conversation, will become wholly subdued in his reason, and, like a miserable man, will obey all the commands which she lays upon him, and will en enrolled as the salve of passion. 1.300. This, then, was the advice which Balaam gave to Balak. And he, thinking that what he said to him did not want sense, repealed the law against adulteries, and having abrogated all the enactments which had been established against seduction and harlotry, as if they had never been enacted at all, exhorted the women to admit to their favours, without any restraint, every man whom they chose. 1.301. Accordingly, when licence was thus given, they brought over a multitude of young men, having already long before this seduced their minds, and having by their tricks and allurements perverted them to impiety; until Phinehas, the son of the chief priest, being exceedingly indigt at all that was taking place (for it appeared to him to be a most scandalous thing for his countrymen to give up at one time both their bodies and souls--their bodies to pleasure, and their souls to transgression of the law, and to works of wickedne 1.302. For when he saw a man of his nation sacrificing with and then entering into the tent of a harlot, and that too without casting his eyes down on the ground and seeking to avoid the notice of the multitude, but making a display of his licentiousness with shameless boldness, and giving himself airs as if he were about to engage in a creditable action, and one deserving of smiles--Phinehas, I say, being very indigt and being filled with a just anger, ran in, and while they were still lying on the bed, slew both the lover and the harlot, cutting them in two pieces in the middle, because they thus indulged in illicit connections. 1.303. When some persons of those who admired temperance, and chastity, and piety, saw this example, they, at the command of Moses, imitated it, and slew all their own relations and friends, even to a man, who had sacrificed to idols made with hands, and thus they effaced the stain which was defiling the nation by this implacable revenge which they thus wreaked on those who had set the example of wrong doing, and so saved the rest, who made a clear defence of themselves, demonstrating their own piety, showing no compassion on any one of those who were justly condemned to death, and not passing over their offences out of pity, but looking upon those who slew them as pure from all sin. Therefore they did not allow any escape whatever to those who sinned in this way, and such conduct is the truest praise; 1.304. and they say that twenty-four thousand men were slain in one day, the common pollution, which was defiling the whole army, being thus at once got rid of. And when the works of purification were thus accomplished, Moses began to seek how he might give an honour worthy of him who had displayed such permanent excellence to the son of the chief priest, who was the first who hastened to inflict chastisement on the offenders. But God was beforehand with him, giving to Phinehas, by means of his holy word, the greatest of all good things, namely, peace, which no man is able to bestow; and also, in addition to this peace, he gave him the perpetual possession of the priesthood, an inheritance to his family, which could not be taken from it. 1.305. But when none of the civil and intestine evils remained any longer, but when all the men who were suspected of having either forsaken the ways of their ancestors or of treachery had perished, it appeared to be a most favourable opportunity for making an expedition against Balak, a man who had both planned to do, and had also executed an innumerable host of evil deeds, since he had planned them through the agency of the prophet, who he hoped would be able, by means of his curses, to destroy the power of the Hebrews, and who had executed his purpose by the agency of the licentiousness and incontinence of the women, who destroyed the bodies of those who associated with them by debauchery, and their souls by impiety. 1.306. Therefore Moses did not think fit to carry on war against him with his whole army, knowing that superfluous numbers are apt to meet with disaster in consequence of those very numbers; and also, at the same time, thinking it useful to have stations of reserve, to be assistants to those of their allies who appeared likely to fail; but he selected a thousand picked men of the youth of the nation, selected man by man, out of each tribe, twelve thousand in all, for that was the number of the tribes, and he appointed Phinehas to be the commander in the war, as he had already given proof of the happy daring which becomes a general; and after he had offered up sacrifices of good omen, he sent forth his warriors, and encouraged them in the following words:-- 1.307. The present contest is not one for dominion or sovereignty, nor is it waged for the sake of acquiring the property of others, though these are the objects for which alone, or almost invariably, wars take place; but this war is undertaken in the cause of piety and holiness, from which the enemy has alienated our relations and friends, being the causes of bitter destruction to those who have been brought under their yoke. 1.308. It is therefore absurd for us to be the slayers of our own countrymen, for having offended against the law, and to spare our enemies, who have violated it in a much worse degree, and to slay, with every circumstance of violence, those who were only learning and beginning to sin, but to leave those who taught them to do so unpunished, who are, in reality, the guilty causes of all that has taken place, and of all the evils which our countrymen have either done or suffered. 1.309. Therefore being nerved by these exhortations, and being kindled and filled with noble courage which was indeed in their souls already, they went forth to that contest with invincible spirit as to a certain victory; and when they engaged with the enemy, they displayed such incredible vigour and courage that they slew all their enemies, and returned themselves unhurt, every one of them, not one of their number having been slain or even wounded. 1.310. Any one who did not know what had taken place, might have supposed, when he saw them returning, that they were coming in, not from war and from a pitched battle, but rather from a display and field-day of exercise under arms, such as often take place in time of peace; and these fielddays are days of exercise and practice, while the men train themselves among friends to attack their enemies. 1.311. Therefore they destroyed all their cities, razing them to the ground or else burning them, so that no one could tell that any cities had ever been inhabited in that land. And they led away a perfectly incalculable number of prisoners, of whom they chose to slay all the full-grown men and women, the men because they had set the example of wicked counsels and actions, and the women because they had beguiled the youth of the Hebrews, becoming the causes to them of incontinence and impiety, and at the last of death; but they pardoned all the young male children and all the virgins, their tender age procuring them forgiveness; 1.312. and as they had taken a vast booty from the king's palace, and from private houses, and also from the dwellings of all kinds in the open country (for there was not less booty in the country places than in the citie 1.313. And Moses praised Phinehas their general, and those who had served under him for their good success, and also because they had not been covetous of their own advantage, running after booty and thinking of nothing, but appropriating the spoil to themselves, but because they had brought it all into the common stock, so that they who had staid behind in the tents might share in the booty; and he ordered those men to remain outside the camp for some days, and the high priest he commanded to purify both the men themselves, and those of their allies who had returned from fighting by their side, of bloodshed; 1.314. for even though the slaughter of the enemies of one's country is according to law, still he who kills a man, even though justly and in self-defence, and because he has been attacked, still appears to be guilty of blood by reason of his supreme and common relationship to a common father; on which account those who had slain enemies were in need of rites of purification, to cleanse them from what was looked upon as a pollution. 1.315. However, after no long lapse of time he divided the booty among those who had taken a part in the expedition, and they were but a small number, giving one half among those who had remained inactive at home, and the other half to those who were still in the camp; for he looked upon it as just and equitable to give the share of the advantages gained, to those who had shared in the contest, if not with their souls, at all events with their bodies; for as the spectators were not inferior to the actual combatants in their zeal, they were inferior only in point of time and in respect of their being anticipated. 1.316. And as the smaller body had received each a larger share of the booty, by reason of their having been the foremost in encountering danger, and the larger body had received each a smaller share, by reason of their having remained at home; it appeared indispensable that they should consecrate the first fruits of the whole of the booty; those therefore who had remained at home brought a fiftieth, and those who had been actually engaged in the war, brought and contributed a five hundredth part; and of ten first fruits Moses commanded that portion which came from those who had borne a part in the expedition, to be given to the high priest, and that portion which came from those who had remained in the camp, to the keepers of the temple whose name were the Levites. 1.317. And the captains of thousands, and centurions, and all the rest of the multitude of commanders of battalions and companies willingly contributed special first fruits, as an offering for their own safety, and that of those who had gone out to war, and for the victory which had been gained in a manner beyond all hope, giving up all the golden ornaments which had fallen to the lot of each individual, in the apportionment of the booty, and the most costly vessels, of which the material was gold. All which things Moses took, and, admiring the piety of those who contributed them, dedicated them in the consecrated tabernacle as a memorial of the gratitude of the men; and the division of the first fruits was very beautiful; 1.318. those which had been given by the men who had borne their share in the war, he distributed among the keepers of the temple as among men who had only displayed one half of virtue, namely eagerness without action; but the first fruits of those who had warred and fought, who had encountered danger with their bodies and lives, and thus had displayed perfect and complete excellence, he allotted to him who presided over the keepers of the temple, namely to the high priest; and the first fruits of the captains, as being the offerings of chiefs and rulers, he allotted to the great ruler of all, namely to God. 1.334. I have now, then, given an account of what was done by Moses while invested with kingly power. I must now proceed to relate in order all the actions which he performed in accordance with virtue, and also successfully as a chief priest, and also in his character as a lawgiver; for he also exercised these two powers as very closely connected with his kingly authority
7. Philo of Alexandria, Hypothetica, 6.1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

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.
8. Philo of Alexandria, Allegorical Interpretation, 3.88-3.89 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

9. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 2.238-2.256, 4.329 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.238. 1. Moses, therefore, when he was born, and brought up in the foregoing manner, and came to the age of maturity, made his virtue manifest to the Egyptians; and showed that he was born for the bringing them down, and raising the Israelites. And the occasion he laid hold of was this:— 2.239. The Ethiopians, who are next neighbors to the Egyptians, made an inroad into their country, which they seized upon, and carried off the effects of the Egyptians, who, in their rage, fought against them, and revenged the affronts they had received from them; but being overcome in battle, some of them were slain, and the rest ran away in a shameful manner, and by that means saved themselves; 2.241. The Egyptians, under this sad oppression, betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies; and when God had given them this counsel, to make use of Moses the Hebrew, and take his assistance, the king commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the general of their army. 2.242. Upon which, when she had made him swear that he would do him no harm, she delivered him to the king, and supposed his assistance would be of great advantage to them. She withal reproached the priest, who, when they had before admonished the Egyptians to kill him, was not ashamed now to own their want of his help. 2.243. 2. So Moses, at the persuasion both of Thermuthis and the king himself, cheerfully undertook the business: and the sacred scribes of both nations were glad; those of the Egyptians, that they should at once overcome their enemies by his valor, and that by the same piece of management Moses would be slain; but those of the Hebrews, that they should escape from the Egyptians, because Moses was to be their general. 2.244. But Moses prevented the enemies, and took and led his army before those enemies were apprised of his attacking them; for he did not march by the river, but by land, where he gave a wonderful demonstration of his sagacity; 2.245. for when the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents, (which it produces in vast numbers, and, indeed, is singular in some of those productions, which other countries do not breed, and yet such as are worse than others in power and mischief, and an unusual fierceness of sight, some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and so come upon men at unawares, and do them a mischief,) Moses invented a wonderful stratagem to preserve the army safe, and without hurt; 2.246. for he made baskets, like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes, and carried them along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them, as if it were done by the harts; 2.247. but the ibes are tame creatures, and only enemies to the serpentine kind: but about these ibes I say no more at present, since the Greeks themselves are not unacquainted with this sort of bird. As soon, therefore, as Moses was come to the land which was the breeder of these serpents, he let loose the ibes, and by their means repelled the serpentine kind, and used them for his assistants before the army came upon that ground. When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians before they expected him; 2.248. and, joining battle with them, he beat them, and deprived them of the hopes they had of success against the Egyptians, and went on in overthrowing their cities, and indeed made a great slaughter of these Ethiopians. Now when the Egyptian army had once tasted of this prosperous success, by the means of Moses, they did not slacken their diligence, insomuch that the Ethiopians were in danger of being reduced to slavery, and all sorts of destruction; 2.249. and at length they retired to Saba, which was a royal city of Ethiopia, which Cambyses afterwards named Mero, after the name of his own sister. The place was to be besieged with very great difficulty, since it was both encompassed by the Nile quite round, and the other rivers, Astapus and Astaboras, made it a very difficult thing for such as attempted to pass over them; 2.251. However, while Moses was uneasy at the army’s lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened:— 2.252. Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtilty of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians’ success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalancy of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage. 2.253. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land. 2.254. 1. Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained a hatred to him, and were very eager in compassing their designs against him, as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success, to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the king he ought to be slain. 2.255. The king had also some intentions of himself to the same purpose, and this as well out of envy at his glorious expedition at the head of his army, as out of fear of being brought low by him and being instigated by the sacred scribes, he was ready to undertake to kill Moses: 2.256. but when he had learned beforehand what plots there were against him, he went away privately; and because the public roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel; and, though he was destitute of food, he went on, and despised that difficulty courageously; 4.329. as if he hardly had any such in his soul, and only knew them by their names, as rather perceiving them in other men than in himself. He was also such a general of an army as is seldom seen, as well as such a prophet as was never known, and this to such a degree, that whatsoever he pronounced, you would think you heard the voice of God himself.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
abraham, philo, on the life of abraham Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
abraham Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
babylon/babylonians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
chaldea/chaldeans Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
conversion/proselytes, and abraham Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
discourse Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
education (educated) Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
egyptian Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
exemplary/exemplarity Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
exile Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
god Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
godlike Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
hebrews/israelites, as ethnos or genos Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
hero (heroes, heroic) Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
history, in josephus Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
identity as nation or people, not defined by direct lineage in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
israel Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
jews/judeans/ioudaioi, and ethnicity in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
josephus Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
lineage and genealogy as identity marker, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
marriage Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
memory Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
mimesis (mimetic) Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
moses Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154
philo of alexandria Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
philosophy Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
pious Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
public (versus private) Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
wisdom' Johnson Dupertuis and Shea, Reading and Teaching Ancient Fiction: Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman Narratives (2018) 162
worship/ritual/cult as identity markers, for jews in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 154