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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Philo Of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 4.179-4.181

nanAnd one may almost say that the whole nation of the Jews may be looked upon in the light of orphans, if they are compared with all other nations in other lands; for other nations, as often as they are afflicted by any calamities which are not of divine infliction, are in no want of assistance by reason of their frequent intercourse with other nations, from their habitual dealings in common. But this nation of the Jews has no such allies by reason of the peculiarity of its laws and customs. And their laws are of necessity strict and rigorous, as they are intended to train them to the greatest height of virtue; and what is strict and rigorous is austere. And such laws and customs the generality of men avoid, because of their inclination for and their adoption of pleasure.

nanBut, nevertheless, Moses says that the great Ruler of the universe, whose inheritance they are, does always feel compassion and pity for the orphan and desolate of this his people, because they have been dedicated to him, the Creator and Father of all, as a sort of first-fruits of the whole human race.

nanAnd the cause of this dedication to God was the excessive and admirable righteousness and virtue of the founders of the nation, which remain like undying plants, bearing a fruit which shall ever flourish to the salvation of their descendants, and to the benefit of all persons and all things, provided only that the sins which they commit are such as are remediable and not wholly unpardonable.

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

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1. Philo of Alexandria, On Husbandry, 84 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

84. Very beautifully, therefore, does the lawgiver in his recommendations, teach us not to elect as a chief, a man who is a breeder of horses, thinking that such a one is altogether unsuited to exercise authority, inasmuch as he is in a frenzy about pleasures and appetites, and intolerable loves, and rages about like an unbridled and unmanageable horse. For he speaks thus, "Thou shalt not be able to set over thyself a man that is a stranger, because he is not thy brother; because he will not multiply for himself his horses, and will not turn his people towards Egypt.
2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Cherubim, 9 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

9. And they shall undergo eternal banishment, God himself confirming their expulsion, when he bids the wise man obey the word spoken by Sarah, and she urges him expressly to cast out the serving woman and her son; and it is good to be guided by virtue, and especially so when it teaches such lessons as this, that the most perfect natures are very greatly different from the mediocre habits, and that wisdom is a wholly different thing from sophistry; for the one labours to devise what is persuasive for the establishment of a false opinion, which is pernicious to the soul, but wisdom, with long meditation on the truth by the knowledge of right reason, bring real advantage to the intellect. 9. Then, as different beings were treated with divine honours by different nations, the diversity of opinions respecting the Supreme Being, begot also disputes about all kinds of other subjects; and it was from having a regard to these facts in the first place that Moses decided on giving his laws outside of the city.
3. Philo of Alexandria, On The Preliminary Studies, 120 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

120. For what is more important than this is the fact, that Moses gave laws to that sacred and divine assembly in a code of ten commandments in all. And these are the commandments which are the generic heads, and roots, and principles of the infinite multitude of particular laws; being the everlasting source of all commands, and containing every imaginable injunction and prohibition to the great advantage of those who use them. XXXII.
4. Philo of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 15, 1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Migration of Abraham, 94, 175 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

175. But when he has arrived at the height of perfect knowledge, then, running forward vigorously, he keeps up with the speed of him who was previously leading him in his way; for in this way they will both become attendants of God who is the guide of all things; no one of those who hold erroneous opinions accompanying them any longer, and even Lot himself, who turned on one side the soul, which might have been upright and inflexible, removing and living at a distance. XXXII.
6. Philo of Alexandria, On The Change of Names, 197 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

197. men who weary the ears of those who hear them by everlastingly dwelling on such subjects as these; wisdom is a necessary good; folly is pernicious; temperance is desirable; intemperance is hateful; courage is a thing proper to be cultivated; cowardice must be avoided; justice is advantageous; injustice is disadvantageous; holiness is honourable; unholiness is shameful; piety towards the gods is praiseworthy; impiety is blameable; that which is most akin to the nature of man is to design, and to act, and to speak virtuously; that which is most alien from his nature is to do the contrary of all these things.
7. Philo of Alexandria, On The Creation of The World, 130 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

130. And we must understand in the case of every thing else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out. For although Moses did not describe everything collectively, but only a part of what existed, as he was desirous of brevity, beyond all men that ever wrote, still the few things which he has mentioned are examples of the nature of all, for nature perfects none of those which are perceptible to the outward senses without an incorporeal model. XLV.
8. Philo of Alexandria, On The Posterity of Cain, 109 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

109. for who would converse in a similar manner with parents and children, being by nature the slave of the one, and by birth the master of the others? And who, again, would talk in the same manner to brothers or cousins; or, in short, to near and to distant relations? Who, again, could do so to friends and to strangers, to fellow citizens and to foreigners, though there may be no great difference in point of fortune, or nature, or age between them? For one must behave differently while associating with an old man and with a young one; and, again, with a man of high reputation and a humble man, with a servant and a master; and, again, with a woman and a man, and with an illiterate and a clever man.
9. Philo of Alexandria, On Curses, 139 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

139. Most correctly, therefore, after the servant has said, "Give me a little water to drink," does she make answer, not in the manner corresponding to his request: "I will give you to drink," but "Drink." For the one expression would have been suited to one who was displaying the riches of God, which are poured forth for all who are worthy of them and who are able to think of them; but the other expression is appropriate to one who professes that she will teach. But nothing which is connected with mere professions is akin to virtue.
10. Philo of Alexandria, On Sobriety, 3 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

11. Philo of Alexandria, On Dreams, 1.161, 1.191 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.161. for having forsaken the language of those who indulge in sublime conversations about astronomy, a language imitating that of the Chaldaeans, foreign and barbarous, he was brought over to that which was suited to a rational being, namely, to the service of the great Cause of all things. 1.191. consider, however, what comes afterwards. The sacred word enjoins some persons what they ought to do by positive command, like a king; to others it suggests what will be for their advantage, as a preceptor does to his pupils; to others again, it is like a counsellor suggesting the wisest plans; and in this way too, it is of great advantage to those who do not of themselves know what is expedient; to others it is like a friend, in a mild and persuasive manner, bringing forward many secret things which no uninitiated person may lawfully hear.
12. Philo of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 1.56, 1.124, 1.340, 2.42, 2.44-2.48, 2.123, 2.163, 2.167, 2.189-2.190, 3.9, 4.16, 4.154, 4.156-4.170, 4.173, 4.176-4.178, 4.180-4.182, 4.185, 4.187-4.188 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.56. There is, in the history of the law, a record of one man who ventured on this exploit of noble daring, for when he saw some men connecting themselves with foreign women, and by reason of their allurements neglecting all their national customs and laws, and practising fabulous ceremonies, he was seized with a sudden enthusiasm in the presence of the whole multitude; and driving away all those on each side who were collected to see the sight, he slew one man who was so daring as to put himself forward as the leader and chief of this transgression of the law (for the impious deed had been already displayed and made a public exhibition of 1.124. on which account the law altogether forbids any foreigner to partake in any degree of the holy things, even if he be a man of the noblest birth among the natives of the land, and irreproachable as respects both men and women, in order that the sacred honours may not be adulterated, but may remain carefully guarded in the family of the priests; 1.340. And even without reckoning the advantage derived from these things; sight also affords us the greatest benefits in respect of the power of distinguishing one's relatives and strangers, and friends, and avoiding what is injurious and choosing what is beneficial. Now each of the other parts of the body has been created with reference to appropriate uses, which are of great importance, as, for instance, the feet were made for walking, and for all the other uses to which the legs can be applied; again, the hands were created for the purpose of doing, or giving, or taking anything; and the eyes, as a sort of universal good, afford both to the hands and feet, and to all the other parts of the body the cause of being able to act or move rightly; 2.42. The law sets down every day as a festival, adapting itself to an irreproachable life, as if men continually obeyed nature and her injunctions. And if wickedness did not prosper, subduing by their predomit influence all those reasonings about what things might be expedient, which they have driven out of the soul of each individual, but if all the powers of the virtues remained in all respects unsubdued, then the whole time from a man's birth to his death would be one uninterrupted festival, and all houses and every city would pass their time in continual fearlessness and peace, being full of every imaginable blessing, enjoying perfect tranquillity. 2.44. for all those men, whether among the Greeks or among the barbarians, who are practisers of wisdom, living in a blameless and irreproachable manner, determining not to do any injustice, nor even to retaliate it when done to them, shunning all association with busy-bodies, in all the cities which they inhabit, avoid all courts of justice, and council halls, and market-places, and places of assembly, and, in short, every spot where any band or company of precipitate headstrong men is collected 2.45. admiring, as it were, a life of peace and tranquillity, being the most devoted contemplators of nature and of all the things in it. Investigating earth and sea, and the air, and the heaven, and all the different natures in each of them; dwelling, if one may so say, in their minds, at least, with the moon, and the sun, and the whole company of the rest of the stars, both planets and fixed stars. Having their bodies, indeed, firmly planted on the earth, but having their souls furnished with wings, in order that thus hovering in the air they may closely survey all the powers above, looking upon them as in reality the most excellent of cosmopolites, who consider the whole world as their native city, and all the devotees of wisdom as their fellow citizens, virtue herself having enrolled them as such, to whom it has been entrusted to frame a constitution for their common city.XIII. 2.46. Being, therefore, full of all kinds of excellence, and being accustomed to disregard all those good things which affect the body and external circumstances, and being inured to look upon things indifferent as really indifferent, and being armed by study against the pleasures and appetites, and, in short, being always labouring to raise themselves above the passions, and being instructed to exert all their power to pull down the fortification which those appetites have built up, and being insensible to any impression which the attacks of fortune might make upon them, because they have previously estimated the power of its attacks in their anticipations (for anticipation makes even those things light which would be most terrible if unexpected 2.47. These men, however, are therefore but a small number, kindling in their different cities a sort of spark of wisdom, in order that virtue may not become utterly extinguished, and so be entirely extirpated from our race. 2.48. But if men everywhere agreed with this small number, and became, as nature originally designed that they should, all blameless and irreproachable, lovers of wisdom, delighting in all that is virtuous and honourable, and thinking that and that alone good, and looking on everything else as subordinate and slaves, as if they themselves were the masters of them, then all the cities would be full of happiness, being wholly free from all the things which are the causes of pain or fear, and full of all those which produce joy and cheerfulness. So that no time would ever cease to be the time of a happy life, but that the whole circle of the year would be one festival.XIV. 2.123. But the law permits the people to acquire a property in slaves who are not of their own countrymen, but who are of different nations; intending in the first place that there should be a difference between one's own countrymen and strangers, and secondly, not desiring completely to exclude from the constitution that most entirely indispensable property of slaves; for there are an innumerable host of circumstances in life which require the ministrations of Servants.{16}{sections 124รป139 were omitted in Yonge's translation because the edition on which Yonge based his translation, Mangey, lacked this material. These lines have been newly translated for this edition.} 2.163. The reason is that a priest has the same relation to a city that the nation of the Jews has to the entire inhabited world. For it serves as a priest--to state the truth--through the use of all purificatory offerings and the guidance both for body and soul of divine laws which have checked the pleasures of the stomach and those under the stomach and [tamed] the mob [of the Senses]{21}{there is a clear problem with the text here, i.e., the noun ochlon lacks a verb.} by having appointed reason as charioteer over the irrational senses; they also have driven back and overturned the undiscriminating and excessive urges of the soul, some by rather gentle instructions and philosophical exhortations, others by rather weighty and forcible rebukes and by fear of punishment, the fear which they brandish threateningly. 2.167. For this reason it amazes me that some dare to charge the nation with an anti-social stance, a nation which has made such an extensive use of fellowship and goodwill toward all people everywhere that they offer up prayers and feasts and first fruits on behalf of the common race of human beings and serve the really self-existent God both on behalf of themselves and of others who have run from the services which they should have rendered. 2.189. for then the voice of a trumpet sounded from heaven, which it is natural to suppose reached to the very extremities of the universe, so that so wondrous a sound attracted all who were present, making them consider, as it is probable, that such mighty events were signs betokening some great things to be accomplished. 2.190. And what more great or more beneficial thing could come to men than laws affecting the whole race? And what was common to all mankind was this: the trumpet is the instrument of war, sounding both when commanding the charge and the retreat. ... There is also another kind of war, ordained of God, when nature is at variance with itself, its different parts attacking one another. 3.9. Therefore, even that pleasure which is in accordance with nature is often open to blame, when any one indulges in it immoderately and insatiably, as men who are unappeasably voracious in respect of eating, even if they take no kind of forbidden or unwholesome food; and as men who are madly devoted to association with women, and who commit themselves to an immoderate degree not with other men's wives, but with their own. 4.16. And before now, some men, increasing their own innate wickedness, and directing the natural treachery of their characters to a violation of all rights, have studied to bring slavery not only upon strangers and foreigners, but even upon those of the same nation as themselves; and sometimes, even upon men of the same borough and of the same tribe, disregarding the community of laws and customs, in which they have been bred up with them from their earliest infancy, which nature stamps upon their souls as the firmest bond of good will in the case of all those who are not very intractable and greatly addicted to cruelty; 4.154. again, with reference to the successful voyage and safety of men at sea, it is not any man who may obtain the office of pilot by lot, who is sent at once to the stern to steer the vessel, and who then by his ignorance may cause a needless wreck in calm and tranquil weather, but that person has that charge given to him who, from his earliest youth, appears to have learnt and carefully studied the business of a pilot; this is a man who has made many voyages, and who has traversed every sea, or at all events most seas, and who has carefully ascertained the character of all the marts, and harbours, and anchorages, and places of refuge in the different islands and continents, and who is still better, or at all events not worse acquainted with the tracks over the sea, than he is with the roads on land, through his accurate observation of the heavenly bodies; 4.156. And if any one should be about to undertake the government or regulation of large and populous cities, full of inhabitants, and should attempt to settle the constitution of such, and should undertake the superintendence of private, and public, and sacred affairs, a task which any one may rightly call the art of arts, and the science of sciences, he would not trust to the uncertain chances of time, passing over the accurate and trustworthy test of truth; and the test of truth is proof combined with reason.XXX. 4.157. The all-wise Moses seeing this by the power of his own soul, makes no mention of any authority being assigned by lot, but he has chosen to direct that all offices shall be elected to; therefore he says, "Thou shalt not appoint a stranger to be a ruler over thee, but one of thine own Brethren,"{37}{#de 17:15.} implying that the appointment is to be a voluntary choice, and an irreproachable selection of a ruler, whom the whole multitude with one accord shall choose; and God himself will add his vote on favour of, and set his seal to ratify such an election, that being who is the confirmer of all advantageous things, looking upon the man so chosen as the flower of his race, just as the sight is the best thing in the body.XXXI. 4.158. And Moses gives also two reasons, on account of which it is not proper for strangers to be elected to situations of authority; in the first place, that they may not amass a quantity of silver, and gold, and flocks, and raise great and iniquitously earned riches for themselves, out of the poverty of those who are subjected to them; and secondly, that they may not make the nation quit their ancient abodes to gratify their own covetous desires, and so compel them to emigrate, and to wander about to and fro in interminable wanderings, suggesting to them hopes of the acquisition of greater blessings, which shall never be fulfilled, by which they come to lose those advantages of which they were in the secure enjoyment. 4.159. For our lawgiver was aware beforehand, as was natural that one who was a countryman and a relation, and who had also an especial share in the sublimest relationship of all, (and that sublimest of relationships is one constitution and the same law, and one God whose chosen nation is a peculiar people 4.160. And from the first day on which any one enters upon his office, he orders that he shall write out a copy of the book of the Law{38}{#de 17:18.} with his own hand, which shall supply him with a summary and concise image of all the laws, because he wishes that all the ordices which are laid down in it shall be firmly fixed in his soul; for while a man is reading the notions of what he is reading fleet away, being carried off by the rapidity of his utterance; but if he is writing they are stamped upon his heart at leisure, and they take up their abode in the heart of each individual as his mind dwells upon each particular, and settles itself to the contemplation of it, and does not depart to any other object, till it has taken a firm hold of that which was previously submitted to it. 4.161. When therefore he is writing, let him take care, every day, to read and study what he has written, both in order that he may thus attain to a continual and unchangeable recollection of these commands which are virtuous and expedient for all men to observe, and also that a firm love of and desire for them may be implanted in him, by reason of his soul being continually taught and accustomed to apply itself to the study and observance of the sacred laws. For familiarity, which has been engendered by long acquaintance, engenders a sincere and pure friendship, not only towards men, but even also towards such branches of learning as are worthy to be loved; 4.162. and this will take place if the ruler studies not the writings and memorials of some one else but those which he himself has written out; for his own works are, in a certain degree, more easily to be understood by each individual, and they are also more easily to be comprehended; 4.163. and besides that a man, while he is reading them, will have such considerations in his mind as these: "I wrote all this; I who am a ruler of such great power, without employing any one else as my scribe, though I had innumerable servants. Did I do all this, in order to fill up a volume, like those who copy out books for hire, or like men who practise their eyes and their hands, training the one to acuteness of sight, and the others to rapidity of writing? Why should I have done this? That was not the case; I did it in order that after I had recorded these things in a book, I might at once proceed to impress them on my heart, and that I might stamp upon my intellect their divine and indelible characters: 4.164. other kings bear sceptres in their hands, and sit upon thrones in royal state, but my sceptre shall be the book of the copy of the law; that shall be my boast and my incontestible glory, the signal of my irreproachable sovereignty, created after the image and model of the archetypal royal power of God. 4.165. And by always relying upon and supporting myself in the scared laws, I shall acquire the most excellent things. In the first place equality, than which it is not possible to discern any greater blessing, for insolence and excessive haughtiness are the signs of a narrow-minded soul, which does not foresee the future. 4.166. Equality, therefore, will win me good will from all who are subject to my power, and safety inasmuch as they will bestow on me a just requital for by kindness; but inequality will bring upon me terrible dangers, and these I shall escape by hating inequality, the purveyor of darkness and wars; and my life will be in no danger of being plotted against, because I honour equality, which has no connection with seditions, but which is the parent of light and stability. 4.167. Moreover, I shall gain another advantage, namely, that I shall not sway this way and that way, like the dishes in a scale, in consequence of perverting and distorting the commandments laid down for my guidance. But I shall endeavour to keep them, going through the middle of the plain road, keeping my own steps straight and upright, in order that I may attain to a life free from error or misfortune. 4.168. And Moses was accustomed to call the middle road the royal one, inasmuch as it lay between excess and deficiency; and besides, more especially, because in the number three the centre occupies the most important place, uniting the extremities on either side by an indissoluble chain, it being attended by these extremities as its bodyguards as though it were a king. 4.169. Moreover, Moses says that a longenduring sovereignty is the reward of a lawful magistrate or ruler who honours equality, and who without any corruption gives just decisions in a just manner, always studying to observe the laws; not for the sake of granting him a life extending over many years, combined with the administration of the commonwealth, but in order to teach those who do not understand that a governor who rules in accordance with the laws, even though he die, does nevertheless live a long life by means of his actions which he leaves behind him as immortal, the indestructible monuments of his piety and virtue.XXXIII. 4.170. And it becomes a man who has been thought worthy of the supreme and greatest authority to appoint successors who may govern with him and judge with him, and, in concert with him, may ordain everything which is for the common advantage; for one person would not be sufficient, even if he were ever so willing, and if he were the most powerful man in the world, both in body and soul, to support the weight and number of affairs which would come upon him, as he would faint under the pressure and rapidity of all kinds of business coming in upon him continually every day from all quarters, unless he had a number of persons selected with reference to their excellence who might co-operate with him by their prudence, and power, and justice, and godly piety, men who not only avoid arrogance, but even detest it as an enemy and as the very greatest of evils. 4.173. And we can find clear instances of both kinds in the sacred laws, which it is well for us to imitate; for there was once a time in which Moses, alone by himself, decided all causes and all matters of legal controversy, labouring from morning till night. But after a time his father-inlaw came to him, and seeing with what a weight of business he was overwhelmed, as all those who had any disputes were everlastingly coming upon him, he gave him most excellent advice, counselling him to choose subordinate magistrates, that they might decide the less important affairs, and that he might have only the more serious causes to occupy him, and by this means provide himself with time for Rest.{39}{#ex 18:14.} 4.176. We have here mentioned one example of what we before alluded to. We must now add an instance of the second kind. I said that the causes of men of humble condition were important; for the widow, and the orphan, and the stranger are powerless and humble. And it is right that the supreme King should be the judge in their case, the Ruler who has the supreme authority over the whole nation; since, according to Moses, even God, the Ruler of the universe, did not exclude them from the provisions of his laws; 4.177. for when Moses, that holy interpreter of the will of God, is raising a hymn in praise of the virtues of the living God in these terms, "God is great and mighty, one who is no respecter of persons, and who does not take gifts to guide him in his Judgment."{40}{#de 10:17.} he adds, in whose case it is that he gives judgment, not in the case of satraps, and tyrants, and men who have the power by land and sea, but he gives judgment respecting the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow. 4.178. In the case of the first, because he has made his own kinsmen, whom alone it was natural for him to have as allies and champions, his irreconcileable enemies, by quitting their camp and taking up his abode with the truth, and with the honour of the one Being who is entitled to honour, abandoning all the fabulous inventions and polytheistic notions which his fathers, and grandfathers, and ancestors, and all his kindred, who cleave to the beautiful settlement which he has forsaken, were wont to honour. In the case of the second, because he is deprived of his father and mother, his natural defenders and protectors, and by consequence of the only power which was bound to show itself as his ally. And lastly, in the case of the woman who is a widow because she has been deprived of her husband, who succeeded her parents as her guardian and protector; for a husband is to his wife in point of relationship what her parents are to a virgin. 4.180. But, nevertheless, Moses says that the great Ruler of the universe, whose inheritance they are, does always feel compassion and pity for the orphan and desolate of this his people, because they have been dedicated to him, the Creator and Father of all, as a sort of first-fruits of the whole human race. 4.181. And the cause of this dedication to God was the excessive and admirable righteousness and virtue of the founders of the nation, which remain like undying plants, bearing a fruit which shall ever flourish to the salvation of their descendants, and to the benefit of all persons and all things, provided only that the sins which they commit are such as are remediable and not wholly unpardonable. 4.182. Let not any one then think that nobility of birth is a perfect good, and therefore neglect virtuous actions, considering that that man deserves greater anger who, after he has been born of virtuous parents, brings disgrace on his parents by reason of the wickedness of his disposition and conduct; for if he has domestic examples of goodness which he may imitate, and yet never copies them, so as to correct his own life, and to render it healthy and virtuous, he deserves reproach.XXXV. 4.185. but those men who acquire great power and authority to the injury and damage of their subjects, ought to be entitled, not rulers, but enemies, inasmuch as they are acting the part of implacable foes. Not but what those who injure one treacherously are even more wicked than those who oppose one openly, since it is possible to repel the one without difficulty, as they display their hostility without disguise; but the evil-mindedness of the others is difficult to detect and hard to unveil, being like the conduct of men on the stage, who are clothed in a dress which does not belong to them, in order to conceal their real appearance. 4.187. for this is to act in imitation of God, since he also has the power to do either good or evil, but his inclination causes him only to do good. And the creation and arrangement of the world shows this, for he has summoned what had previously no being into existence, creating order out of disorder, and distinctive qualities out of things which had no such qualities, and similarities out of things dissimilar, and identity out of things which were different, and intercommunion and harmony out of things which had previously no communication nor agreement, and equality out of inequality, and light out of darkness; for he is always anxious to exert his beneficent powers in order to change whatever is disorderly from its present evil condition, and to transform it so as to bring it into a better state.XXXVI. 4.188. Therefore it is right for good rulers of a nation to imitate him in these points, if they have any anxiety to attain to a similitude to God; but since innumerable circumstances are continually escaping from and eluding the human mind, inasmuch as it is entangled among and embarrassed by so great a multitude of the external senses, as is very well calculated to seduce and deceive it by false opinions, since in fact it is, as I may say, buried in the mortal body, which may very properly be called its tomb, let no one who is a judge be ashamed to confess that he is ignorant of that of which he is ignorant
13. Philo of Alexandria, On The Virtues, 160, 182, 222-225, 89, 94, 147 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

147. But, nevertheless, the lawgiver neither neglected the safety of the unclean animals, nor did he permit those which were clean to use their strength in disregard of justice, crying out and declaring loudly in express words, if one may say so, to those persons who have ears in their soul, not to injure any one of a different nation, unless they have some grounds for bringing accusations against them beyond the fact of their being of another nation, which is not ground of blame; for those things which are not wickedness, and which do not proceed from wickedness, are free from all reproach. XXVIII.
14. Philo of Alexandria, On The Contemplative Life, 24 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

24. But the houses of these men thus congregated together are very plain, just giving shelter in respect of the two things most important to be provided against, the heat of the sun, and the cold from the open air; and they did not live near to one another as men do in cities, for immediate neighbourhood to others would be a troublesome and unpleasant thing to men who have conceived an admiration for, and have determined to devote themselves to, solitude; and, on the other hand, they did not live very far from one another on account of the fellowship which they desire to cultivate, and because of the desirableness of being able to assist one another if they should be attacked by robbers.
15. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Moses, 1.1, 1.87, 1.147, 1.149, 2.2, 2.11-2.14, 2.17, 2.34, 2.43-2.44, 2.48, 2.51-2.52, 2.211 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.1. I have conceived the idea of writing the life of Moses, who, according to the account of some persons, was the lawgiver of the Jews, but according to others only an interpreter of the sacred laws, the greatest and most perfect man that ever lived, having a desire to make his character fully known to those who ought not to remain in ignorance respecting him 1.87. And after these events, they take courage now to converse with the king with respect to sending forth their people from his territories that they might sacrifice to God; for they said, "That it was necessary that their national sacrifices should be accomplished in the wilderness, inasmuch as they were not performed in the same manner as the sacred rites of other nations, but according to a system and law removed from the ordinary course, on account of the special peculiarities of their habits. 1.147. And of those who now went forth out of Egypt and left their abodes in that country, the men of age to bear arms were more than six hundred thousand men, and the other multitude of elders, and children, and women were so great that it was not easy to calculate it. Moreover, there also went forth with them a mixed multitude of promiscuous persons collected from all quarters, and servants, like an illegitimate crowd with a body of genuine citizens. Among these were those who had been born to Hebrew fathers by Egyptian women, and who were enrolled as members of their father's race. And, also, all those who had admired the decent piety of the men, and therefore joined them; and some, also, who had come over to them, having learnt the right way, by reason of the magnitude and multitude of the incessant punishments which had been inflicted on their own countrymen. 1.149. For, as he had abandoned the chief authority in Egypt, which he might have had as the grandson of the reigning king, on account of the iniquities which were being perpetrated in that country, and by reason of his nobleness of soul and of the greatness of his spirit, and the natural detestation of wickedness, scorning and rejecting all the hopes which he might have conceived from those who had adopted him, it seemed good to the Ruler and Governor of the universe to recompense him with the sovereign authority over a more populous and more powerful nation, which he was about to take to himself out of all other nations and to consecrate to the priesthood, that it might for ever offer up prayers for the whole universal race of mankind, for the sake of averting evil from them and procuring them a participation in blessings. 2.2. For some persons say, and not without some reason and propriety, that this is the only way by which cities can be expected to advance in improvement, if either the kings cultivate philosophy, or if philosophers exercise the kingly power. But Moses will be seen not only to have displayed all these powers--I mean the genius of the philosopher and of the king--in an extraordinary degree at the same time, but three other powers likewise, one of which is conversant about legislation, the second about the way of discharging the duties of high priest, and the last about the prophetic office; 2.11. And those who are well versed in the sacred scriptures know this, for if he had not had these principles innate within him he would never have compiled those scriptures at the promptings of God. And he gave to those who were worthy to use them the most admirable of all possessions, namely, faithful copies and imitations of the original examples which were consecrated and enshrined in the soul, which became the laws which he revealed and established, displaying in the clearest manner the virtues which I have enumerated and described above. 2.12. But that he himself is the most admirable of all the lawgivers who have ever lived in any country either among the Greeks or among the barbarians, and that his are the most admirable of all laws, and truly divine, omitting no one particular which they ought to comprehend, there is the clearest proof possible in this fact, the laws of other lawgivers 2.13. if any one examines them by his reason, he will find to be put in motion in an innumerable multitude of pretexts, either because of wars, or of tyrannies, or of some other unexpected events which come upon nations through the various alterations and innovations of fortune; and very often luxury, abounding in all kind of superfluity and unbounded extravagance, has overturned laws, from the multitude not being able to bear unlimited prosperity, but having a tendency to become insolent through satiety, and insolence is in opposition to law. 2.14. But the enactments of this lawgiver are firm, not shaken by commotions, not liable to alteration, but stamped as it were with the seal of nature herself, and they remain firm and lasting from the day on which they were first promulgated to the present one, and there may well be a hope that they will remain to all future time, as being immortal, as long as the sun and the moon, and the whole heaven and the whole world shall endure. 2.17. But this is not so entirely wonderful, although it may fairly by itself be considered a thing of great intrinsic importance, that his laws were kept securely and immutably from all time; but this is more wonderful by far, as it seems, that not only the Jews, but that also almost every other nation, and especially those who make the greatest account of virtue, have dedicated themselves to embrace and honour them, for they have received this especial honour above all other codes of laws, which is not given to any other code. 2.34. So when they had won his approval, they immediately began to fulfil the objects for which that honourable embassy had been sent; and considering among themselves how important the affair was, to translate laws which had been divinely given by direct inspiration, since they were not able either to take away anything, or to add anything, or to alter anything, but were bound to preserve the original form and character of the whole composition, they looked out for the most completely purified place of all the spots on the outside of the city. For the places within the walls, as being filled with all kinds of animals, were held in suspicion by them by reason of the diseases and deaths of some, and the accursed actions of those who were in health. 2.43. In this way those admirable, and incomparable, and most desirable laws were made known to all people, whether private individuals or kings, and this too at a period when the nation had not been prosperous for a long time. And it is generally the case that a cloud is thrown over the affairs of those who are not flourishing, so that but little is known of them; 2.44. and then, if they make any fresh start and begin to improve, how great is the increase of their renown and glory? I think that in that case every nation, abandoning all their own individual customs, and utterly disregarding their national laws, would change and come over to the honour of such a people only; for their laws shining in connection with, and simultaneously with, the prosperity of the nation, will obscure all others, just as the rising sun obscures the stars. 2.48. for he was not like any ordinary compiler of history, studying to leave behind him records of ancient transactions as memorials to future ages for the mere sake of affording pleasure without any advantage; but he traced back the most ancient events from the beginning of the world, commencing with the creation of the universe, in order to make known two most necessary principles. First, that the same being was the father and creator of the world, and likewise the lawgiver of truth; secondly, that the man who adhered to these laws, and clung closely to a connection with and obedience to nature, would live in a manner corresponding to the arrangement of the universe with a perfect harmony and union, between his words and his actions and between his actions and his words. 2.51. For both in his commandments and also in his prohibitions he suggests and recommends rather than commands, endeavouring with many prefaces and perorations to suggest the greater part of the precepts that he desires to enforce, desiring rather to allure men to virtue than to drive them to it, and looking upon the foundation and beginning of a city made with hands, which he has made the commencement of his work a commencement beneath the dignity of his laws, looking rather with the most accurate eye of his mind at the importance and beauty of his whole legislative system, and thinking it too excellent and too divine to be limited as it were by any circle of things on earth; and therefore he has related the creation of that great metropolis, the world, thinking his laws the most fruitful image and likeness of the constitution of the whole world. 2.52. At all events if any one were inclined to examine with accuracy the powers of each individual and particular law, he will find them all aiming at the harmony of the universe, and corresponding to the law of eternal nature: 2.211. For this reason the all-great Moses thought fit that all who were enrolled in his sacred polity should follow the laws of nature and meet in a solemn assembly, passing the time in cheerful joy and relaxation, abstaining from all work, and from all arts which have a tendency to the production of anything; and from all business which is connected with the seeking of the means of living, and that they should keep a complete truce, abstaining from all laborious and fatiguing thought and care, and devoting their leisure, not as some persons scoffingly assert, to sports, or exhibitions of actors and dancers, for the sake of which those who run madly after theatrical amusements suffer disasters and even encounter miserable deaths, and for the sake of these the most domit and influential of the outward senses, sight and hearing, make the soul, which should be the heavenly nature, the slave of these senses.
16. Philo of Alexandria, On The Embassy To Gaius, 116, 183, 200, 210-211, 277, 353, 72, 115 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

115. for he regarded the Jews with most especial suspicion, as if they were the only persons who cherished wishes opposed to his, and who had been taught in a manner from their very swaddling-clothes by their parents, and teachers, and instructors, and even before that by their holy laws, and also by their unwritten maxims and customs, to believe that there was but one God, their Father and the Creator of the world;
17. Philo of Alexandria, Allegorical Interpretation, 1.94, 3.3, 3.144 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.94. Therefore there is no need of addressing either command, or prohibition, or recommendation to the man who is perfect, and made according to the image of God; For the perfect man requires none of these things; but there is a necessity of addressing both command and prohibition to the wicked man, and recommendation and instruction to the ignorant man. Just as the perfect grammarian or perfect musician has need of no instruction in the matters which belong to his art, but the man whose theories on such subjects are imperfect stands in need of certain rules, as it were, which contain in themselves commands and prohibitions, and he who is only learning the art requires instruction.
18. Philo of Alexandria, Questions On Exodus, 2.42 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

19. Philo of Alexandria, Who Is The Heir, 42, 44, 105 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

105. For many men have become wicked in respect of such sacred deposits, having, through their immoderate covetousness improperly used the property of others as their own. But do thou, O good man! endeavour with all thy strength, not only to present what you have received without injury and without adulteration, but also to take even more care than that of such things, that he who has deposited them with you may have no grounds to blame the care which has been exercised by you.
20. Philo of Alexandria, That The Worse Attacks The Better, 68 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

68. Therefore, he here clearly asserts that the good man is the guardian of the words and of the covet of God. And, indeed, in another place he has shown that he is the best interpreter and declarer of his justifications and laws; the faculty of interpretation being displayed through its kindred organ--the voice, and guardianship being exerted through the mind, which having been made by nature as a great storehouse, easily contains the conceptions of all things, whether bodies or things. It would therefore have been worth the while of this self-loving Cain to have been the keeper of Abel; for if he had kept him he would have attained to a compounded and moderate kind of life, and would not have been filled with unmodified and absolute wickedness. XX.
21. Philo of Alexandria, That Every Good Person Is Free, 93 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

93. Calanus was an Indian by birth, one of the gymnosophists; he, being looked upon as the man who was possessed of the greatest fortitude of all his contemporaries, and that too, not only by his own countrymen, but also by foreigners, which is the rarest of all things, was greatly admired by some kings of hostile countries, because he had combined virtuous actions with praiseworthy language;
22. Philo of Alexandria, Plant., 132 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

132. Since therefore all the fruit of the soul is consecrated in the fourth year and the fourth number; in the fifth year we ourselves shall be allowed the use and enjoyment of it for ourselves; for the scripture says, "In the fifth year ye shall eat the fruit thereof;" since it has been established by a perpetual law of nature, that account shall be taken of the creation after the Creator in every thing; so that even if we are thought worthy of the second place, it must be considered a marvellous thing;

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
aaron Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
alexandria Scales, Galilean Spaces of Identity: Judaism and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee (2024) 42
alien/foreigner, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 162
anaxagoras Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 165
anti-semitism Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 98
apologetic Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 7
aristotle Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
berthelot, katell Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 165
body Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
customs/traditions/practices as identity markers, among jews Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
dead sea scrolls, interpreters Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
dead sea scrolls, philo on Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
egypt Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
egyptians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
envy Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 7
ethnos/ethne, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
genos/gene/gens/genus, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
god, in philo Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 98
hasmonean dynasty Scales, Galilean Spaces of Identity: Judaism and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee (2024) 42
hebrews/israelites, and mixed marriages Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
holy, holiness Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
identity as nation or people, not defined by direct lineage in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 162
idolatry, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
intermarriage, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
jews/judeans/ioudaioi, and intermarriage in post-biblical texts Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
kingship, philo on Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
law of nature, in philo Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 103
liminality Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
lineage and genealogy as identity marker, in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
martens, john Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 267
mesopotamia/mesopotamians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160
mind Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
monarchy, philo on Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
mosaic law, for ordinary people Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 98
mosaic law, philos view of, as divine Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 98
moses Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
philo, interpretation of deuteronomy Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
philo, on monarchy Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
philo, on the judiciary Flatto, The Crown and the Courts (2021) 34
philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
unity of law, in philo' Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 103
values/character as identity marker, for philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160, 162
virtue Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology (2016) 87
worship/ritual/cult as identity markers, for jews in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 160