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Antiquities of the Jews -- 4

Journey from Sinai, to the death of Moses

(Greek and English >>> )

01. The Hebrews fight the Canaanites against Moses' advice, and are defeated

02. Sedition of Korah against Moses and his brother, about the priesthood.

03. How the rebels were destroyed, and how Aaron kept the priesthood

04. The Hebrews during thirty-eight years in the wilderness

05. Amorites Sihon and Og are defeated by Moses, who divides up their land

06. Balaam the Moabite prophet is inspired to bless the Israelites

07. How the Hebrews overcame the Madianites

08. Moses' final dispositions, and how he disappeared

Chapter 01. [001-010]
The Hebrews make war on the Canaanites against Moses' advice, but are defeated


001 The Hebrews found this life in the wilderness so disagreeable and hard that they took the risk of attacking the Canaanites, contrary to God's command. They refused Moses' advice to keep the peace and thought they could defeat the enemy without him, even suspecting and accusing him of scheming to keep them dependent, that they would always be in need of his help. 002 So they resolved to make war on the Canaanites, saying that God had helped them before, not because of Moses's intercession but because of his general care for their entire nation, due to their ancestors, whom he had taken under his special protection. It was due to this and their own merit that he had granted them liberty in the past and if they now made an effort he would still be present as their ally. 003 They claimed to be strong enough to defeat their enemies, even if Moses wished to cut them off from God. They wanted to be their own masters and not so highly esteem their being saved from the burden of the Egyptians as to let Moses be a tyrant over them and force them to live according to his pleasure, 004 "as though God reveals our destiny to him alone, and we were not all of Abraham's stock, but only to him did God give knowledge of the future, so that we must learn it from him." 005 They ought to ignore his arrogant pretences and put their trust in God, and take possession of the land He had promised them, not heeding the man who in God's name forbade them to do so. 006 So, considering their plight and this desert which made it seem even worse, they rushed to battle with the Canaanites, with God as their leader and expecting no help from their Legislator.


007 Judging this their best plan, they marched against the enemy, but these, undaunted by the attack or by their large numbers, opposed them bravely. Many of the Hebrews were killed, and the rest of the army, with their line in disorder, were pursued and shamefully fled to their camp. 008 This unexpected misfortune put them in total dismay and made their future look bleak, as they gathered from it that this misfortune came from the wrath of God, for rushing out to war before he gave his approval.


009 When Moses saw his people stricken by this defeat, fearing that the enemy would attack them, emboldened by their victory and seeking further glory, he saw that he should lead the army farther from the Canaanites and into the desert. 010 The people turned to him again, aware that their affairs could not prosper without his care for them; so he led the army further into the wilderness, intending to rest them there and not come to grips with the Canaanites until God gave them a more favourable opportunity.

Chapter 02. [011-034]
Korah strives against Moses about the priesthood


011 As it often happens with large groups and especially after failure, that they are hard to please and to persuade, so it was with the Jews. For being six hundred thousand, and because of their large numbers not readily subject to their betters even in good times, now in their plight and calamities they were even worse, both to each other and to their leader. 012 Such disunity took hold of them as was never among the Greeks or the Barbarians, and they were in danger of being destroyed by it, until they were saved by Moses, who set aside their abuse and the fact that they had almost put him to death. 013 God did not want them to be ruined, and despite their disregard for their Legislator and the commandments he had given them by Moses, he saved them from the troubles of this sedition which, without his providential care, would have overwhelmed them. First I will explain the cause of the sedition and then how Moses dealt with it.


014 Korah, a Hebrew of notable family and wealth, was an eloquent man, gifted in persuading the people by his speeches. Seeing the great dignity enjoyed by Moses, he envied him bitterly, being of the same tribe and kin, and thinking himself more worthy of that honour, due to his wealth and not being his inferior by birth. 015 So he raised discontent against him among his tribesmen the Levites, and especially among his relatives, saying that it was a shame to let Moses seek glory for himself and abuse it, under a pretense of God's orders, and unlawfully give the priesthood to his brother Aaron, not by the will of the people, but by his own will, 016 like a tyrant bestowing dignities just as he pleased, and that his secrecy was more insulting than open violence, for not only had he taken the power without their consent, but they were even unaware of his plans. 017 Whoever knows himself worthy of some dignity should seek it by persuasion and not by sheer force, but those who are unable to obtain such honours justly, make a show of goodness and grow powerful by using cunning instead of force. 018 The people should punish such men, even if they think their plans secret, and not let them gain strength until they became their enemies in public. "For what justification can Moses give, for bestowing the priesthood on Aaron and his sons? 019 If God chose to bestow that honour on one of the tribe of Levi, I am more worthy of it than Moses, being his equal in family and above him in wealth and in age. If He bestowed it on the eldest, Rubel's tribe should properly have it, in Datham and Abiram and Peleth, the oldest men of that tribe and powerful too, in their great wealth."


020 In saying this, Korah wished to seem concerned for the people's welfare, but in reality he wanted to have the people transfer the dignity to himself, acting with malice as he spoke to his own tribesfolk. 021 When his words gradually spread to more people and the hearers added further to the scandal about Aaron, the whole army was full of it. Along with Korah were two hundred and fifty notables, who wanted the priesthood taken from Moses's brother and to dishonour the man himself. 022 The populace was so roused that they tried to stone Moses, and were indecently assembled, in noisy disorder before the Tent of God, and shouted to remove the tyrant and rid the people from their slavery under one who claims the name of God to impose his own commands. 023 If God were to chose someone as priest, he would have given it to someone worthy of the honour, not one inferior to many others, and even if God had seen fit to bestow it on Aaron, he would have allowed the people to confer it and not have left this to his own brother.


024 Though Moses had long foreseen this calumny of Korah and knew the people's fury, he was not frightened but came to the assembly full of courage, since he had advised them well about their affairs and knew that his brother had been given the priesthood by God's choice and not by his own favour to him. 025 He said not a word to the people, but spoke as loudly as he could to Korah, and being very skilful in speech, with an ability to address people, he said, "Korah, you and each of these (pointing to the two hundred and fifty men) seem worthy of this honour; nor do I rule out that the whole company may deserve it, even if not be so rich or powerful as you. 026 But Aaron did not get the priesthood because he excelled in wealth, for you surpass us both in the greatness of your riches; nor because of his breeding, for God has given us all the same forefather; nor was it from brotherly love, as another might justly have done, giving it to his brother. 027 If I were not subject to God and his laws in bestowing this honour, would I have bypassed myself and given it to another, being nearer of kin to myself than to my brother, and closer to myself than to him? For surely it would be unwise for me to risk the danger of giving offence by bestowing the blessing upon another in this way. 028 But I am above such base motives, and God would not let himself be so despised; nor would he leave you unaware of what to do, in order to please him, but he has chosen for himself the one to minister to him and has freed us from that care. 029 As it is not to be received by my favour, but only by God's judgment, I propose it be competed for by those who wish, provided that he who was already nominated and was given it, may be allowed now to be a candidate. 030 He prefers to hold this honour without seeing you in uproar, though it was with your approval that he got it, for while the donor was God, we did no wrong in agreeing to to accept it with your goodwill. 031 It would be impious not to have accepted the dignity when he offered it; indeed it would be wrong to refuse it, when God saw thought fit to give it to someone for all time to come and confirmed it to him. But let him again judge who he wishes to offer sacrifices to him on our behalf, and preside over our religion. 032 It is absurd that Korah, coveting this honour, to rob God of the power of giving it to whom he pleases. So cease your revolt and upheaval about this matter, and tomorrow morning let each of you who desires the priesthood bring a censer from home and come here with incense and fire. 033 Now, Korah, leave the judgment to God and await his judgment on this matter, and do not make yourself greater than God, but you too should come to judgement about this honour. 034 I suppose we may allow Aaron to offer himself to this judgment, since he is of the same lineage with yourself and has done nothing in his priesthood that is subject to blame. 035 Come together then, and publicly offer your incense before all the people, and when you offer it, he whose sacrifice God accepts shall be ordained to the priesthood and shall be clear of this calumny, as though I had given him the honour because he is my brother."

Chapter 03. [035-058]
God punishes the rebels with death. Aaron retains the priesthood


035 When Moses had spoken, the crowd gave up their turbulence and their suspicions of him and agreed to what he had said, as it made sense to the people. So they dissolved the meeting but gathered again the next day to be present at the sacrifice and at the judgment to be made about the priesthood. 036 This was a turbulent assembly as the crowd was in suspense to see what would happen, for some would have liked to see Moses accused of wrongdoing, while the wiser sort wanted and end to trouble and strife, afraid that if this revolt continued, the beauty of their system would disappear. 037 The majority naturally delight in belittling those charge and was in uproar, swayed by what each one said. Moses sent servants to Abiram and Datham bidding them come to the assembly and remain for the liturgy. 038 But they told the messengers they would not obey and could not condone Moses's behaviour, who was slyly growing too dominant over the people. Hearing their answer, Moses asked his chief advisers to follow him and went to Datham's followers, not afraid to go to the insolent, and they did not refuse but followed him. 039 When Datham's associates learned that Moses and the notables of the people were coming to them, they stood before their tents with their wives and children, to see what Moses would do. They also had their servants around them for defence in case Moses should use any force.


040 But he approached and lifting up his hands to heaven cried aloud so as to be heard by the whole people, saying, "O Lord of all that is in heaven, on earth and in the sea, you are the truest witness to what I have done and know that it was all done by your will and that it was you who helped us in all our efforts and showed mercy on the Hebrews in all their distress; come now and hear my words. 041 No act or thought escapes your knowledge, and you will not refuse to support what I say, rather than the ingratitude of these men. You know better than I what happened before I was born, not having learned it by report, but seeing it and being present when it was done. But bear me witness about the things done recently which these, though they know them well enough, wrongly claim to suspect. 042 When I lived a private life, I left the good state I enjoyed with my father-in-law Raguel, by my diligence and by your guidance, and gave myself over to this people and suffered many things on their account. I took great pains first for their liberty and now for their safety, always ready to help them in every distress. 043 Now since I am held suspect by those whose being here is due to me, I expect you to come, you who showed me that fire on mount Sinai and let me hear your voice and see wonders in that place, who told me to go to Egypt and declare your will to this people; 044 You who shook the happiness of the Egyptians and let us flee from slavery to them and subdued to me the rule of Pharaothes; You who made the sea dry land for us when we did not know where to go and poured on the Egyptians the destructive waves which were divided for us; You who gave us the safety of weapons when we were unarmed; 045 You who made foul springs to flow, fit for drinking and gave us water from the rock, in our time of need; You who saved our lives with food from the sea, when the fruits of the earth failed us; You who sent us food from heaven which was never seen before; You who promped us to know your laws and directed our form of government. 046 Come to me, O Lord of the whole world, as judge and incorruptible witness and show that I never accepted any unjust bribe from any of the Hebrews, or condemned the innocent on behalf of one that was rich, or harmed this community. I am now suspect of a thing furthest from my mind, of giving the priesthood to Aaron, not at your command, but at my personal preference. 047 Please show now that all things are ruled by your providence and nothing happens by chance, but is under your will and so attains its purpose. Show how you care for the one who cares for the Hebrews, by punishing Abiram and Datham, who scorn You as insensible, as though You were defeated by my scheming. 048 Do this by so publicly punishing these men who fly in the face of your glory, that they leave this life in no ordinary manner, dying like other men. Let the ground they walk upon open beneath them and swallow them up, with their families and property. 049 This will show your power to all and will be a lesson in wisdom for those who do not glorify you reverently. By this I shall be shown as a good servant, in the precepts you have given me. 050 But if their calumnies against me are true, keep them safe from all harm and destroy me as I have prayed against them. When You have punished those who seek to do wrong, grant this people harmony and peace. Save this people who follow your commands and keep them free from harm and let them not share in the punishment of the sinners, for You know it is not right for all the Israelites to suffer the punishment for those men's wrong."


051 When he had said this, weeping, suddenly the ground moved, agitated as when the wind raises waves in the sea. The whole people was terrified, and the ground around their tents sank with a terrible sound and swallowed up all that was dear to them. 052 They disappeared so that there was no sign of anyone, when the earth that had opened under them closed again and became as it was before, so that whoever saw it later could not see a sign of it. That is how these men died and gave proof of God's power. 053 One would grieve for them, not only for their disaster but that their own relatives were pleased that they suffered in this way. On seeing this event they forgot their relationship to them and approved of the judgment. Considering that Datham's people had died for being troublemakers, they did not grieve for them.


054 Moses then summoned the rivals for the priesthood to assign the priestly office, that the one whose sacrifice found most favour with God be chosen. Two hundred and fifty men attended, honoured by the people not only on account of their ancestors, but on their own account, as excelling the others. Aaron and Korah came forward and all offered incense before the Tent in the censers they brought with them. 055 Such a bright fire shone out as none had ever seen either by human artifice or in earthquakes caused by subterranean fire, or in spontaneous forest fires when the trees rub on each other, for this bright flame came at God's command. 056 As it came on them, all two hundred and fifty, including Korah, were so entirely destroyed that nothing remained of their bodies. Aaron alone was spared unharmed by the fire, which God sent only on those who should be burned. 057 After these were destroyed, Moses wanted the memory of this judgment to be passed down so that future ages might learn from it, so he ordered Aaron's son Eleazar to put their censers near the bronze altar, 058 as a memorial of what these men suffered for thinking that God's power could be set aside. So Aaron was no longer reckoned to hold the priesthood by the favour of Moses, but by God's public decree, and so he and his children after him enjoyed that honour in peace.

Chapter 04. [059-084]
Thirty eight years Wandering in the Wilderness


059 This did not end the revolt, which rather grew stronger and flourished. The reason for its worsening was such as made it seem the disaster would never cease but would last a long time. 060 The people believed that nothing happens without the providence of God, but thoughtt this would not have happened apart from God's favour to Moses, so they blamed him that the anger of God had flared not so much for any wrong done by those who were punished, as because Moses had caused it. 061 They had been destroyed not because they sinned, but for being zealous about the divine worship, and the one who had caused so many of the best of them to be lost and escaped any punishment himself, had now confirmed the priesthood to his brother. 062 Who could any longer dispute it with him? Who else could now compete for it, seeing that those who first did so had died horribly? The relatives of the victims pleaded with the people to curb the arrogance of Moses, for their own security.


063 Hearing that trouble was brewing, for a good while Moses was afraid that they would attempt another revolt, with major bad consequences, so he called the people to a meeting and patiently heard what they had to say without opposing them, for fear that he would embitter the people. He only asked the heads of the tribes to bring their staves, with the names of their tribes inscribed upon them. 064 It was agreed that the one on whose staff God should give a sign should receive the priesthood. So the rest brought their staves, as did Aaron, who had written the tribe of Levi on his staff. These staves Moses laid up in the Tent of God. The following day he brought out the staves, which were recognised by those who brought them and the people too, as they were clearly marked. 065 All the rest were in exactly in the same form as when Moses received them, but they saw buds and branches grown from Aaron's staff, with ripe almonds upon them, as the staff was cut from that tree. 066 The onlookers were so amazed at this strange sight, that though Moses and Aaron had previously been somewhat hated, the hatred was now laid aside and people began to wonder at God's judgment in their favour, and then applauded what God had decreed and let Aaron hold the priesthood in peace. Three separate times God had ordained him priest so he was confirmed in that honour. Thus this major revolt of the Hebrews, which had lasted a long time, was finally resolved.


067 Since the tribe of Levi was exempt from war and military service and was set apart for divine worship, for fear they should lack and be concerned for the necessities of life and so neglect the temple, Moses ordered by the will of God, that when the Hebrews occupied the land of Canaan, they should assign forty eight good and proper cities to the Levites, and let them own the area up to two thousand feet outward from the walls. 068 Besides, he directed that the people should pay a tenth of their annual fruits of the earth, to the Levites and the priests. This is what that tribe receives from the people, but I think I should set down what is paid by all, especially to the priests.


069 He directed the Levites to give to the priests thirteen of their forty-eight cities and to set apart for them a tenth of the tithes which every year they receive from the people; 070 He said it was just to offer to God the first-fruits of all that grew from the ground, and that they should offer the first-born male of the four-footed beasts that are dedicated to be sacrificed, to be killed by the priests, that they and their households may eat them in the holy city, 071 Owners of animals that may not be eaten according to our ancestral laws, should offer a shekel and a half instead of them, but five shekels for a first-born human being. They are also to receive first-fruits from the shearing of the sheep, and when any corn is baked into bread, some of the loaves should be given to them. 072 If people have made a sacred vow, those who are called Nazarites who let their hair to grow long and use no wine, when these consecrate their hair, and offer it for a sacrifice, they are to assign their shorn locks to the priests. 073 Also people who have dedicated themselves to God in corban, or what the Greeks call a gift, give pay money for the priests if they wish to be freed from that service, thirty shekels for a woman and fifty for a man, but if any are too poor to pay the appointed sum, the priests may decide it as they think fit. 074 People who slaughter at home for their own use and not for ritual worship are to bring to the priests the victim's maw and cheek and right shoulder. Moses devised that amount of maintenance for the priests, besides what they got from any sin-offerings the people gave them, as I have explained in the preceding book. 075 He also ordered that of everything assigned to the priests, their servants, daughters and wives should have a share as well as themselves, except what comes to them from sin-offerings, for of these only the males of the priests' family may eat, and only in the temple and on the same day they were offered.


076 After the revolt, when Moses had made these rules he moved with the whole army and came to the borders of Idumaea. He then sent envoys to the king of the Idumaeans, asking to be let pass through his region and agreeing to send him any hostages he might require, as a security from harm. He also asked him to allow his army to buy provisions, and, if he insisted upon it, he would even pay a price for the water they would drink. 077 But he was not satisfied to grant what Moses' envoys requested and would not allow a passage for the army, but brought his people to face Moses in arms and to stop them if they tried to force their way through. When Moses consulted God on this, He would not let him start a war, so he took his forces by a roundabout route through the wilderness.


078 Then his sister Miriam passed away on the fortieth year since after leaving Egypt, at the new moon on the first day of the month Xanthicus. They gave her a splendid public funeral and buried her on a mountain called Sin, and after the people had mourned for her thirty days, Moses purified them as follows. 079 He brought an unblemished heifer, unused for ploughing or farming and entirely red, to place of great purity, where the high priest killed her and with his finger sprinkled her blood seven times before the Tent of God. 080 Then the heifer was burned entire, with her hide and innards, and they threw into the fire cedar-wood and hyssop and scarlet wool. Then a man who was purified gathered all her ashes and laid them in a place of great purity. 081 Any persons who were defiled by a dead body would put a little of these ashes into spring water, with hyssop, and sprinkled them with it, on the third and on the seventh day, and after that they were clean. He told them to do this also when they came into their own land.


082 When their leader had done this purification after the mourning for his sister, he led the army off through the wilderness and Arabia as far as a place which the Arabs count as their metropolis, which was formerly called Arce, but is now named Petra. 083 Since Moses had told him that he was about to die, Aaron there ascended a nearby mountain and in the sight of the whole army, for the place was steep, he put off his high-priestly vestments and handed them on to his son Eleazar, to whom the high priesthood came on account of his age, and died in full view of the people. 084 He met his end on the same year that he lost his sister, having lived a total of a hundred and twenty three years. He died at new moon on the first day of the month the Athenians call Hecatombaeon, the Macedonians call Loos and the Hebrews call Abba.

Chapter 05. [085-099]
Moses defeats the Amorites and divides their land among the Hebrews


085 The people mourned him for thirty days and when it ended Moses moved the army from there and came to the river Arnon, which, rushing down from the mountains of Arabia and flowing through a total wilderness, flows into lake Asphaltitis and forms the border between the Moabites and the Amorites. This is a fertile area, capable of maintaining a large population with its good produce. 086 Moses sent messengers to Sihon, the king of this region, asking him to let his army pass through, on whatever security he might want, that no harm would be done either to the territory or the people ruled by Sihon, and that he would buy his provisions at a price that would profit them, even if they chose to sell them their water too. But Sihon refused and armed his troops and was fully prepared to block the Hebrews from crossing the Arnon.


087 When Moses saw the Amorite ready to go to war with them, he thought it wrong to ignore the affront, so thinking to wean the Hebrews from their indolent ways and check the disorders arising from this, which had led to their former rebellion, and they were unruly even still, he asked God if he should go to war. 088 When God promised him victory, he was very full of spirit and ready for the contest and urged the soldiers, asking them to fight with gusto, now that the divinity had sanctioned them to do so. On receiving this permission, which they so much desired, they donned all their armour and instantly set about the task. 089 But when the Hebrews were ready to attack him, the Amorite king changed his mind. Not only did he fear the Hebrews, but his whole army, which before had seemed so bold, was now afraid. So they could not resist the first assault or stand up to the Hebrews, but fled, thinking that it gave them better hope of survival than fighting. 090 They put their trust in their strong cities, but when forced to escape to them it did them no good, for the Hebrews instantly saw them yielding and pursued them hard, and when their ranks were broken they fell into a panic. 091 They broke off and fled to the cities, but the others hotly pursued them and grimly persevered in their efforts and being skilful in slinging and hurling missiles of all kinds, and being quick in the pursuit as they wore only light armour, they overtook the enemy, and could reach by their slings and their bows even those farther away who could not be caught. 092 There was a slaughter, and those who escaped were wounded and suffered even more from thirst than from any of their opponents, for it was summer. Most of them who had stayed together were forced down to the river to drink, and as the others had fled in droves the Hebrews outflanked and shot at them, so that, between spears and arrows, they killed them all. 093 Sihon their king also died. And the Hebrews stripped the corpses and took the spoil, taking lots of produce from the land which was rich in fruits. 094 The army went all through it without fear and fed their livestock upon it, capturing the cities too, which could not resist them since all the fighting men were killed. This disaster befell the Amorites, who were neither wise in counsel nor brave in deed, and the Hebrews occupied their land. 095 It is a region situated between three rivers and naturally resembling an island, the river Arnon being its southern, and the Jabbok its northern side, which as it flows into the Jordan loses its own name to adopt the other. The Jordan itself then forms its western border.


096 In these circumstances, Og, the king of Gilead and Gaulanitis, attacked the Israelites, hurring with an army to help his friend Sihon. But when he found him already killed, he still decided to come and fight the Hebrews, expecting to be victorious over them and wanting to test their bravery. 097 His hope failed and he was killed in the battle and all his army was destroyed. So Moses crossed the river Jabbok and overran the kingdom of Og, destroying their cities and killing all their inhabitants, whose wealth exceeded all in that part of the continent, in the richness of the soil and the volume of their goods. 098 Now Og had few equals for his bodily size or his handsome looks. He was also a man very skilled with his hands, so that his actions were on a par with his size and handsome appearance. They got an inkling of his strength and size when they captured his bed at Rabbath, the royal city of the Ammanites; it was made of iron, four feet wide and more than twice as long, plus an extra foot! 099 His fall not only improved the lot of the Hebrews for the present, but by his death he brought them further success, for they took the sixty fortified cities subject to him and all of them, both individually and as a group, took plenty of booty.

Chapter 06. [100-158]
Balaam the Moabite is inspired to bless the Israelites


100 When he had brought his army to the Jordan Moses encamped in the great plain opposite Jericho, a fortunate city that produces palm-trees and balsam. The Israelites began to feel very proud of themselves and were eager for the fight. 101 After a few days spent offering thank-offerings to God and letting the people enjoy themselves, Moses sent a party of warriors to lay waste the region of the Madianites and to capture their cities. The reason for going to war with them was as follows.


102 Balak, the king of the Moabites, who inherited from his ancestors a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Madianites, saw how great the Israelites had grown, and he was much frightened due to the danger to himself and his kingdom, for he was unaware that the Hebrews preferred not to meddle with any other region, but would be content to possess the land of Canaan, as God forbade them to go any farther. So, with more haste than wisdom, he resolved to oppose them with words, 103 for he did not judge it wise to fight them after their successes, since they took heart even in face of setbacks. He planned to stop them, if possible, from growing greater and sent envoys to the Madianites about them. 104 These Madianites knew a man called Balaam, living near the Euphrates, who was the finest prophet of the time and was friendly towards them. They sent some of their honoured princes with Balak's envoys, to ask the prophet to come and call down curses to destroy the Israelites. 105 When the envoys came, Balaam received them kindly and after supper enquired about the will of God and what the Madianites wanted of him. When God opposed his going, he told the envoys that he himself was willing to do what they asked, but that God opposed it, the same God who had given him such a reputation by the truth of his predictions. 106 He said that the army they wanted him to come and curse was favoured by God, and therefore advised them to return home and not to continue as enemies of the Israelites. With that he sent the envoys away.


107 At Balak's most fervent request, the Madianites sent other envoys to Balaam, and wanting to gratify them, he again enquired of God. But God was displeased at this attempt and told him not to reject the envoys. Balaam did not realise that God said this in order to deceive him, so he went with the envoys. 108 A divine angel met him on the journey, as he was in a narrow passage hedged in on both sides, and the donkey Balaam was riding knew it was a divine spirit meeting him and turned aside, pushing Balaam against one of the ramparts, and disregarded the blows he gave her when he was hurt by the wall. 109 When the donkey fell down, still distressed by the angel and by the beating, by the will of God she spoke with a human voice and complained that Balaam was treating her unjustly, for while she had served him without fault, he struck her with blows, failing to see that the providence of God blocked her from serving him in what he was now about. 110 As he was troubled by the human-sounding voice of the donkey, the angel appeared to him and blamed him for striking his donkey, for the creature was not at fault, since he himself had come to bar his journey, as contrary to the will of God. 111 Balaam was afraid and was preparing to return home, but God urged him to continue his intended journey, with orders to say only what he himself would suggest to his mind.


112 With these orders from God, he came to Balak, and after the king entertained him magnificently, he asked him to go to one of the mountains and view the state of the Hebrews' encampment. Balak himself, along with a royal attendance, brought the prophet to the mountain, which lay above them, sixty furlongs from the camp. 113 When he saw them, he asked the king to build him seven altars and to bring him as many bulls and rams; which the king soon did. He then killed the sacrifices and offered them as holocausts, in order to observe what they might mean. 114 Then he said, "Happy is this people, to whom God grants innumerable good things and for whom his providence is helper and guide. There is no nation among mankind but you will surpass them in virtue and in following the best rules of life. You will be counted as people pure from wickedness and will leave those rules to children better than yourselves, because God favours you above all mankind and will make you the happiest of all people under the sun. 115 You shall keep the land to which he sent you and its people shall always serve your children, and all the earth and sea shall be filled with your glory. The number of your descendants will be enough for the world in general and each of its regions. 116 O blessed army, be amazed at how from one father you have become so many. The land of Canaan can now hold you, as you are still comparatively few, but know that the whole world is to be your dwelling-place for ever, and your people shall inhabit both islands and mainland, like the number of the stars in heaven. When you become so many, God will not abandon you, but will grant you abundance of good things in peace, with victory and dominion in war. 117 May the children of your enemies want to fight you, and may they boldly take up arms and attack you. They will not be victorious, nor return as their children and wives would wish. To such bravery will you be raised by the providence of God, who can take the surplus of some and supply the needs of others."


118 These words Balaam spoke by inspiration, not under his own power, but driven by the divine Spirit to say what he did. But Balak was displeased and accused him of breaking his contract, when he and his allies had invited him with the promise of great gifts. For though he came to curse their enemies, he had praised them instead, declaring them the most fortunate of men. 119 To this Balaam replied, "Balak, if you rightly consider all this, can you imagine that it is in our power to be still and say nothing, when the Spirit of God seizes upon us? For he puts in our mouths whatever words he pleases and makes us say what we do not know. 120 I well remember the pleas by which you and the Madianites cheerfully brought me here and why I made this journey. It was not my desire to offend you, in what you asked of me. 121 But God is more powerful than my wish to serve you, and those who intend by themselves to foretell the affairs of mankind, can no more do so than they can refrain from saying what God prompts in them, or resist his will. 122 Indeed, when he begins to enter into us, nothing that we say is from ourselves. It was not my intention to praise this army, or to describe the good things God intends to do to their race, but since he favours them and is going to give them a prosperous life and eternal glory, he moved me to declare such things. 123 However, as it is my wish to oblige you and the Madianites, whose request I cannot decently reject, let us again build other altars and offer sacrifices as we did before, and see if I can persuade God to let me bind these men with curses." 124 Balak agreed, but God still would not let him curse the Israelites, even after the second sacrifices. 125 Then he fell on his face and foretold troubles to happen to the various kings of the nations and their cities, some of which of old were not even inhabited, and these came true for the people concerned, both in former ages and even within my own memory, both by sea and by land. From the fulfilment of his predictions one may assume that the rest will be fulfilled in time to come.


126 Very angry that the Israelites were not cursed, Balak sent Balaam away without according him any honour. But he, when setting out to go back across the Euphrates, sent for Balak and the Madianite rulers and said, 127 "Balak and you Madianites here present, (for I have to satisfy you, despite the prompting of God) it is true no total destruction can befall the Hebrew nation, for neither war, plague, scarcity of the earth's produce, or any other unexpected event can wipe them out, 128 for the Gods providence takes care to preserve them from such a misfortune; nor will it let any disaster come to finish them all. Still, some small temporary harm can still trouble them, which will seem to humble them; but later they will flourish again, to strike fear in those who brought it upon them. 129 So if you want to defeat them in the short term, you can do so in this way. Choose the prettiest of your daughters, whose beauty can overwhelm the chastity of those who gaze on them. Have them prettified to the utmost, and send them near to the others' camp with orders to go with the young men at their request. 130 Then when they see them captivated with desire, let them give in, and if they ask them to stay, let them not agree until they have persuaded them to abandon their ancestral laws and cease to honour the God who established them, and worship the gods of the Madianites, and in this way the wrath of God will come upon them. After giving them this advice, Balaam went his way.


131 When the Madianites sent their daughters as he advised, the Hebrew young men were drawn by their beauty and came to them and begged not to be denied the enjoyment of their beauty and their company. The girls gladly accepted their invitation and had intercourse with them, 132 but when they captured them by love and their lust had developed, they spoke of leaving them. The men were very forlorn at the women's departure and urged and pressed them not to leave, imploring them to stay and become their wives, promising to appoint them mistresses of all they owned. 133 This they said with an oath and called on God to witness what they promised, with tears in their eyes and everything to move the women to pity them. When these saw how they had enslaved the men and how their company held them in thrall, they began to say to them:


134 "Most noble young men, we have things of our own at home and plenty of goods, along with affectionate parents and friends. It was not from lack of such things that we came seeking your company. Neither was it to sell you the beauty of our bodies that we accepted your invitation, but to treat you with the honour that hospitality requires, taking you for brave and worthy men. 135 Now that you say you love us and are upset that we are going to leave, we will not turn your requests aside, and if we receive sufficient assurance of your goodwill, we will be glad to live with you as your wives. 136 However we fear that in time you will tire of our company and then scorn us and send us back to our parents, in dishonour." They apologised for guarding themselves in this way, but the young men promised to give them any assurance they desired and refused them nothing, such was their passion for them. 137 They said, "If this is your resolve, since you differ so much from us in your customs and way of life, with your special foods and your unique kinds of drink, if you want us as your wives, you must also worship our gods. There can be no other proof of the love you say you now feel and promise us in the future than for you to worship the same gods as us. 138 For who can complain, now that you have come into this region, if you worship the local gods of the region, especially as our gods are common to all people and yours belong to nobody else but yourselves?" Either they must do like everyone else, they said, or else seek out some other world, where they could live alone, under their own laws.


139 Their erotic love caused the men to accept this as true, so yielding to their persuasion they broke with their traditions and accepted that there were many gods and sacrificed to them according to the laws of the locality. They enjoyed the alien food and did everything to please the women, in spite of what their own laws required. 140 Soon this sin of the young men went through the whole army and caused a rebellion much worse than before, so that there was danger of their customs being wiped out. For once the youth had tasted the alien customs, they were insatiably drawn to them, and some of the officers, even if distinguished by the virtues of their fathers, were corrupted along with the rest.


141 Zambrias, the head of the tribe of Simeon, lived with the Madianite Cozbi, the daughter of Sur, a powerful man in that region. Required by his wife to disregard the laws revealed to Moses and follow what she was used to, in order to please her, he worshipped as she wished. 142 Moses feared that in this situation matters would get worse, and called the people to a meeting, but accused nobody by name, not wanting to drive to despair those who might come to repent in secret. 143 He said their actions were unworthy of themselves and of their fathers, in preferring pleasure to God and to living according to his will. They should change their behaviour while things were still going well, and know that bravery consists not in breaking their laws, but in resisting their lusts. 144 Besides, he said, it was not good after living soberly in the wilderness, to lose their heads now among good things, and they ought not now lose in the middle of abundance, what they had gained when they had little. In saying this, he tried to correct the young men and bring them to repent what they had done.


145 Zambrias stood up after him and said, "You, Moses, may follow the laws you like so much, and whose practice you have firmly held to; if you had not not, you would already have been punished, since the Hebrews are not easily misled. 146 But I am not going to follow your tyrannical orders, for what you are doing up to now is, under the cover of laws and of God, imposing slavery on us and gaining power for yourself, and robbing us of the satisfaction of living according to our own wills, which is the right of free people who are under no master. 147 You are harder on the Hebrews than were the Egyptians, in claiming the right to punish people, according to the laws, for doing what they please. It is yourself should be punished, for setting aside what each sees as good for him, aiming to make your opinion prevail over everyone else's. 148 It would be wrong for me to later deny what I am now doing and think to be right. As you say, I have married a foreign woman and you hear it from myself as from a free man, for indeed I did not intend to conceal it. 149 I also sacrifice to whatever gods I please, believing one should come at truth from many sides and not live under a tyranny, letting all my hope of life depend upon one man. I will not yield to anyone claiming to have more authority over my actions than myself."


150 When Zambrias had said this about the misdeeds of himself and some others, the people held their peace, fearing what might happen to them and seeing their Legislator loath to have this insolence openly discussed any further, or to argue with him publicly. 151 He avoided it in case many should imitate the impudence of his language and thereby disturb the people; so the assembly was dissolved, but the mischievous attempt would have proceeded further, if Zambrias had not been killed first, as follows. 152 Phineas, the best of the young men in many respects and above them in his lineage, for he was son of the high priest Eleazar and grandson of Moses's brother, was deeply hurt by Zambrias's action, decided to punish him before his pride grew stronger by impunity, and so prevent the growth of this transgression, which would happen if the ringofficers were not punished. 153 He was so bold in spirit and physically brave that he no sooner undertook a hardy than he carried it through to victory. So coming to Zambrias's tent and struck him with his sword and killed Cozbi too. 154 At this, all those young men who prized bravery and reputation, imitated the audacity of Phineas and killed those who had followed the fault of Zambrias. By their bravery, many of the transgressors died, and the rest all died by a plague, 155 a sickness inflicted upon them by God. All their relatives too, who, instead of rightly hindering them from these misdeeds, had urged them to go on, were reckoned by God as also guilty and died, so that at this time no fewer than fourteen thousand of the people were lost.


156 This is why Moses, enraged, sent an army to destroy the Madianites, an expedition about which we shall soon speak, after first relating what we left out, so as not to fail in properly praising our Legislator for his conduct in this matter. 157 Although Balaam, sent for by the Madianites to curse the Hebrews and hindered by divine Providence from doing so, had suggested the advice by which our enemies almost corrupted the whole Hebrew people with their wiles, and some were infected, Moses showed him the great honour of writing down his prophecies. 158 While he could have claimed the glory for himself and given them out as his own predictions, since there was no witness to accuse him for doing so, he still testified to him and honoured his memory. But let each one think of these matters as he pleases.

Chapter 07. [159-175]
The Hebrews overcome the Madianites


159 For the reasons I have given, Moses sent an army of twelve thousand against the land of Madian, taking an equal number from every tribe, and appointed as their commander Phineas, whom a short while back we saw defending the laws for the Hebrews, and punishing Zambrias when he broke them. 160 Forewarned that the army would soon be upon them, the Madianites gathered their forces and guarded the passes into their land and waited there for the enemy's arrival. 161 When they came and fought them, a huge number of the Madianites fell, too many to be counted. Among the fallen were all five of their kings, viz. Ochus and Sures, Robees and Ures and fifthly Rekem, after whom a city is named, for the capital of Arabia is still called Arekem in all of Arabia, from the name of the king who built it, though it is called Petra by the Greeks. 162 When the enemies were routed, the Hebrews ransacked their region and took much booty and destroyed its menfolk and their wives, while sparing the virgins, as Moses directed Phineas. 163 He led the army home unharmed, with booty in abundance: fifty two thousand oxen, seventy five thousand six hundred sheep, sixty thousand donkeys, and quantities of gold and silver domestic objects, and were rich enough to live in great luxury. About thirty-two thousand virgins were also taken prisoner. 164 Moses divided the spoils and gave one fiftieth to Eleazar and the two priests and another fiftieth to the Levites, and distributed the rest among the people. After this they lived happily, having won abundant prosperity by their bravery and with no misfortune to trouble them or stop them from enjoying it.


165 But Moses had grown old by now and appointed Joshua as his successor, both to receive prophecies and to command the army, if need be, for the direction of affairs was entrusted to him at God's command. Now Joshua had been totally instructed by Moses about the laws and the divinity.


166 By then the two tribes of Gad and Rubel and the half tribe of Manasses had much livestock and all other kinds of property, so they came as a group to ask Moses to grant as their special portion the Amorite land they had taken in war, as it was fruitful and good for grazing livestock. 167 Thinking that they were afraid to fight the Canaanites and had invented the livestock issue as a pretext, he called them rogues who were trying to excuse their cowardice, and sought to live in luxury and ease, while all the rest were striving to win the land they sought. 168 He said they were unwilling to march on and bear the struggles ahead through which, as God promised, they were to cross the Jordan and conquer the land which God had marked out for them. 169 When they saw him angry and justly displeased by their request, they apologised, saying that their request was not made from fear of danger, or from laziness, 170 but to leave in a secure place the spoil they had gotten and thereby be quicker and readier to face difficulties and fight battles; and once they had built cities to secure their children and wives and goods they would go along with the rest of the army. 171 Satisfied with this, Moses along with the high priest, Eleazar, and Joshua and all the leaders, gave them permission to occupy the Amorite land, provided they would fight alongside their relatives until all was settled. On this condition they occupied the region and built strong cities and put into them their children and wives and all they had, which might prove an impediment to their efforts.


172 Moses now built those ten cities to be counted among the number of the forty-eight, of which he assigned three as places of refuge for people who involuntarily killed anyone. He assigned the period of exile as the lifetime of whoever was high priest at the time of the killing and flight, after which the doer could return home. During this exile, the victim's relatives had the right to kill him if they caught him outside the limits of the city of refuge, a right not given to anyone else. 173 The cities set apart for refuge were: Bosora on the borders of Arabia, Ariman in the land of Galadene, and Gaulana in Batanis. At Moses's command when they occupied the land of Canaan there were to be another three cities of the Levites assigned as havens for these fugitives.


174 Meanwhile the officers of the tribe of Manasses came to Moses to tell him that an eminent man of their tribe named Solophantes, had died, leaving no male children, but daughters only and asked if the inheritance could go to them. 175 He replied that if they married within their own tribe, they could bring their estate along with them, but if they married men of another tribe, the inheritance must be left within their father's tribe. Thus he ordained that each one's inheritance should remain in his own tribe.

Chapter 08. [176-331]
Moses' last words (summary of the Law). The death of Moses, on the borders of Canaan


176 Thirty days after the forty years were ended, Moses assembled the congregation near the Jordan, at a place full of palm-trees where the city of Abila now stands, and when the whole people had gathered, he addressed them as follows.


177 "My fellow soldiers, who have shared with me this long and difficult journey, since now the will of God and my old age, at a hundred and twenty, requires me to leave this life, and since God has prevented me from being your patron and helper in what remains to be done, 178 even now I must not cease my efforts on your behalf, but must seek your lasting enjoyment of the good life and leave you a memorial of me, when you enter into plenty and prosperity. 179 Let me tell you how to gain happiness and leave lasting prosperity to your children after you, and then let me leave this life. Surely you may trust what I say, in light of what I have already done for you and because, when souls are about to leave the body, they speak with all sincerity. 180 Children of Israel, there is only one source of prosperity for all mankind, God's favour, for he alone can give good things to the deserving and take them away from those who sin against him. If you act according to his will and do as I, who well understand his mind, advise you, you will be deemed blessed and admired by all. You will not die out but will continue to possess the good things you already have and soon obtain what you need. 181 Simply obey what God wants you to do and prefer no other laws above those now given to you, nor despise the form of worship you now have, nor change it for any other. If you do this, you will be the bravest of all people to bear the burden of war, and hard for any enemy to conquer. 182 While God is there to help you, you may scorn all else and great rewards are in store for you, if you preserve virtue throughout your lives. For she is the first and reward and after her come many others, 183 so your practice of virtue will make your own lives happy and render you finer than foreigners, and gain you undisputed fame with your descendants. These you can gain by heeding and observing those laws which, at God's command, I have set for you, meditating on the wisdom in them. 184 I am now leaving you, glad of the good things you enjoy and entrusting you to the wisdom of your laws, the order of your society and the virtues of your officers, who will do what is for your good. 185 God, who has up to now been your Leader and by whose favour I myself have served you, will not now cease caring for you, but as long as you want him as your Protector in following virtue, so long will you enjoy his care for you. 186 Your high priest Eleazar, too, and Joshua, with the elders and chiefs of your tribes, will lead you and give you the best advice for your continued happiness. Listen willingly to them, for people who know how to be ruled will also know how to govern, when they come to authority themselves. 187 Do not think freedom consists in opposing what your officers decide to do, as as present you use your liberty only to abuse those who do you good. If you guard against this in future, your affairs will improve. 188 You dare not show them such anger as you have often done to me, for you know how I was in danger of death more from you than from our enemies. 189 What I now say is not meant to mock you, for I do not think it right, as I leave this life, to recall this just to offend you, since I was not angry with you even at the time when you were troubling me; but it is to make you wiser later and teach you what will be for your security. Never be insolent to those who preside over you, even when you have become very rich, once you cross the Jordan and possess the land of Canaan. 190 If your wealth leads you to despise and disregard virtue, you will forfeit God's favour too, and making him your enemy, you will be beaten in war and have the land you possess taken away from you again, to your great shame. You will be scattered round the world and be found everywhere, both sea and land, as slaves. 191 But once you have undergone all this, you will repent in vain and remember the laws you should have kept. So if you intend to keep these laws, once you have conquered your enemies you should leave none of them alive, but see it as for your good to destroy them all, or you may get a taste for their customs and thereby corrupt your own proper system. 192 I urge you to destroy any altars, groves and temples they may have, and to burn out their nation and their very memory, for only by this can your prosperity be firmly secured. 193 To prevent your ignoring virtue and sinking into vice, by divine command I have set for you laws and a constitution so good, that if you observe their harmony, you will be reckoned the most happy of all."


194 Saying this, he gave them the laws and the shape of their constitution written in a book. They began to weep and already sensed how much they would miss their leader, remembering the dangers he had faced and his great care for their safety. They were anxious about the future and how they would never have another leader like him and feared that God would then take less care of them once Moses their intercessor was gone. 195 They repented of their angry words to him in the wilderness, and the whole populace wept so bitterly that words could not comfort their grief. Moses still cajoled them and, diverting them from their tears, urged them to keep to the constitution he had given them. Then the congregation dispersed.


196 I want first to describe this constitution which came from the dignity and virtue of Moses, to show the reader what our original order was and then describe what happened afterwards. Those things all still exist in writing, as he left them, and we shall add nothing by way of ornament, nor anything besides what Moses left us. 197 Our only novelty will be to synthesise the various kinds of laws into a regular system, for in his writing they were left in the scattered form in which they were delivered, according as he had learned them from God in response to his questions. I thought I should mention this in advance so that none of my countrymen can blame me for going astray. 198 Our constitution includes the laws of our political state. I shall treat of the laws Moses left about our interaction with each other when discussing our customs and cases. With God's help, I propose to write about this, after I have finished the present work.


199 "When you have conquered the land of Canaan and have the leisure to enjoy its good things, and later when you have decided to build cities, if you do what is pleasing to God your prosperity will rest secure. 200 Let there be one city in the land of Canaan, situated at a great height in the best and most agreeable place, which by prophetic revelation God shall choose for himself. Let there be one temple in it and one altar, not built of hewn stones, but of stones that you gather at random, coated over with mortar, and fine and beautiful to behold. 201 Let the ascent to it not be by steps but by a ramp of raised earth. Let there be neither altar nor temple in any other city, for God is but one and the Hebrew nation is but one.


202 Whoever blasphemes God, let him be stoned, and let him hang upon a tree all that day and then let him be buried in an ignominiously, in secret.


203 Let those who live at the extremities of the land ruled by the Hebrews come three times a year to that city that holds the temple, to thank God for good things already received and to pray for those they need in the future. So let them maintain friendly relations with each other by such meetings and communal feasts. 204 For those who are of the same stock and under the same body of laws should not be unknown to each other, but keep the memory of this union by seeing and talking with each other; for if people do not meet regularly, they will seem like mere strangers to each other.


205 Let there be taken from your fruits a tenth, besides that which you have assigned for the priests and Levites. This you may sell in the region, but let it be used in the feasts and sacrifices celebrated in the holy city, for you should enjoy the fruits of the earth which God gives you to possess, in such a way as honours the giver.


206 No sacrifice should be paid from the wages of a prostitute, for the Deity is not pleased with what comes from wrong, and nothing is worse than abusing the body. Neither may one take the price for covering a bitch, either of one used in hunting or in guarding the sheep, and from it sacrifice to God.


207 Let no one blaspheme the gods that other cities revere; nor may one steal what belongs to the temples of others, nor take away the gifts dedicated to any god.


208 Let none of you wear a garment made of wool and linen, for that is appointed to be for the priests alone.


209 When the people are gathered in the holy city for sacrificing every seventh year, at the feast of tents, let the high priest stand upon a high dais, from which he may be heard, and read the laws to all the people, and let neither the women nor children be hindered from hearing, nor the servants either. 210 It is good that those laws be engraved in their souls and preserved in their memories, so that they cannot be blotted out. In this way they will not be guilty of sin, and cannot plead ignorance of what the laws command. The laws will have more authority among them, as they foretell what they will suffer if they break them. 211 Planted in their souls by this hearing, there remains in their minds an imprint of the laws they have despised and broken, so they will know that they are the authors of their own harm. Let the children also learn the laws, as the first thing they are taught, which will be the best thing they can be taught and will be the cause of their future happiness.


212 Twice every day, both when day begins and at the hour before going to sleep, let them recall before God the benefits received during their salvation from the land of Egypt, gratitude being both right in itself and serving not only to recall present, but to request future favours. 213 They are to inscribe on their doors the great blessings they have received from God and display them on their arms. They must have written on their head and on their arm the wonderful deeds of God and his goodwill towards them, that God's loving care may be everywhere visible about them.


214 As judges in every city let there be seven men, zealous in the practice of virtue and justice. Let every judge have two helpers from the tribe of Levi. 215 Those chosen to judge in the various cities must be held in all honour, with none permitted to revile any others when these are present, nor to behave insolently to them, for reverence towards those in high office deters men from being irreverent towards God. 216 Let those who judge be permitted to decide according as they think to be right, unless they can be shown to have taken bribes to pervert justice, or can otherwise be accused, making it seem that they have passed sentence unjustly, for it is wrong for cases to be publicly decided for the sake of gain, or the dignity of the plaintiff, but judges must esteem what is right before all other things. 217 Otherwise, God will be despised and thought less than the judges, since dread of his power has not prevented the unjust sentence, for justice is the power of God. Whoever gratifies those in dignity, supposes them more powerful than God himself. 218 But if judges are unable to give a just sentence about the cases that come before them, which is not seldom in human affairs, let them send the undecided case to the holy city where the high priest, the prophet and the Sanhedrin shall decide it as seems best to them.


219 Let no witness be credited on his own, but three, or two at least, whose testimony is supported by their good lives. The testimony of women is not admitted, due to the levity and audacity of their sex. Neither let servants be allowed as witnesses, due to their baseness of soul, for they may not speak truth, either from hope of gain, or fear of punishment. If one is believed to have borne false witness, let him, if convicted, suffer the same as what the accused would have suffered.


220 If a murder takes place in any place and the doer is not found, nor anyone suspected of hating the man enough to kill him, a diligent inquiry should be made and rewards offered. Then if no information still emerges, let the officers and council of the cities near where the murder took place, assemble and measure the distance from the place where the dead body lies. 221 Then let the officers of the nearest city shall purchase a heifer and bring it to a valley, to a place in it where there is no land ploughed or trees planted, and let them cut the sinews of the heifer. 222 The priests and Levites and elders of that city shall take water and wash their hands over the head of the heifer, and publicly declare that their hands are innocent of this murder, having neither done it themselves, nor helped anyone who did it. They shall also beg God for mercy, that such a dreadful thing may never again be done in that area.


223 Aristocracy and living under it, is the best system; let you never yearn for any other, but let you always love this form and be led by the laws, and by them govern all your actions, for you need no ruler but God. But if you desire a king, let him be one of your own nation and let him always care for justice and the other virtues. 224 Let him submit to the laws and see God's commands as his highest wisdom, and let him do nothing without the high priest and the advice of the elders. He should not have many wives, or abundance of riches or horses, which may make him too proud to submit to the laws. If he goes after such things, let him be restrained, so as not to become too powerful to care for your welfare.


225 Let it not be lawful to change boundaries, whether your own or of those with whom you are at peace. Be careful not to remove landmarks which are as it were, a divine and firm limit upon lasting rights. Such covetous overstepping of the borders of others causees wars and rebellions, and those who move boundaries are not far from trying to subvert the laws.


226 Whoever plants some land, whose trees fruit before the fourth year, must not bring any first-fruits of it to God, nor use that fruit himself. It was not produced in its due season, for when nature has forced its growth at the wrong time, the fruit is not suitable for God, nor for its owner's use. 227 On the fourth year it is in its proper season, so let the owner gather all the produce and bring it to the holy city and spend it, along with the tithe of his other fruits, on feasting with his friends, and on orphans and widows. On the fifth year he may use the fruit just as he pleases.


228 Land which is planted with vines must not be also sown with seed. Let it suffice to nourish the vine and not also subject it to the plough. You must plough your land with oxen and not put other animals under the same yoke with them, but do your ploughing with beasts of the same kind. The seeds must also be pure and unmixed, not a blend of two or three sorts, for nature does not favour the union of things that are unlike. 229 Neither must you mate beasts of different species, for such inter-breeding could lead to human imitation, taking its origin from abuses about such smaller things. 230 Nothing must be allowed that would, by imitation, let the constitution be perverted. The laws must not neglect small matters, but provide that even those be handled without reproach.


231 Let those who reap and gather the harvest not take in the gleanings too; rather they must leave some handfuls for the destitute, as a support for their subsistence. Likewise those harvesting grapes must leave some bunches for the poor and also leave some of the fruits of the olive, as a share for those who have none of their own. 232 To the owners, the value of completely collecting it all will not be as great as winning the gratitude of the poor. And God will see that the land produces its nourishing fruits more readily, when you do not care only for your own profit, but care for the support of others too. 233 You must not muzzle the mouths of the oxen when they tread the corn in the threshing-floor, for it is not just to deny the fruit to those who work with us to produce it. 234 Do not prevent those who pass by when the crops are ripe from touching them, but whether they are local people or strangers, let them eat their fill, happy to let them share in the fruits in their season; but let them not be allowed to take any away. 235 People gathering the grapes and bringing them to the wine-press must not stop those whom they meet from eating of them. For it is wrong, when the season is at its height by the will of God, to begrudge those who desire it from partaking of the good things that come into the world while the season God has blessed is hurrying past. 236 If some are too shy to touch these fruits, let those who are Israelites be urged to share in them as if they were themselves the owners and masters, due to the kinship existing between them; and let people from other countries also share in these tokens of friendship which God gives in their proper season. 237 Whatever anyone gives to another out of kindness is not to be reckoned as wasted, for God bestows many good things on mankind not for the benefit of themselves alone, but also to generously pass on to others. In this way, he wants to display to others his special kindness to the people of Israel and how freely he prospers them, when from their great surplus they pass things on to others. 238 Whoever breaks these laws, let him receive from the public executioner forty stripes save one, a disgraceful punishment for a free-man, sincee he was such a slave to profit as to scorn true justice. 239 You who were tested by suffering in Egypt and in the desert should provide for those in similar circumstances, and once you have now reached prosperity by God's mercy and providence, in the same spirit let you share this same plenty with whoever needs it.


240 Besides those two tithes, which I said you must pay each year, one for the Levites and the other for the festivals, every third year you must bring a third tithe to be distributed to those in need; including widowed women and orphaned children. 241 When fruits are ripe, let them bring the first of each kind to the temple, and after blessing God for giving them the land that produced them, and offering the sacrifices required by the law, let them give the first-fruits to the priests. 242 When one has done this, and has brought the tithe of all he owns, along with those first-fruits for the Levites and for the festivals, and is about to go home, let him stand before the sanctuary and thank God, who saved them from their hardships in Egypt and gave them a good and broad land and lets them enjoy its fruits, and publicly declare that he has fully paid the tithes according to the laws of Moses. 243 Let him ask God to be merciful and gracious to him always and to continue so towards all the Hebrews, protecting the good things he has already given them and adding as much as he can bestow.


244 At the proper age, let them marry virgins who are free and born of good parents. And whoever does not marry a virgin, let him not corrupt another man's wife by taking her, nor cause grief to her former husband. Free men should not marry slaves, no matter how attracted they feel, for it is right to govern such feelings for the sake of dignity. 245 Also, one should not marry a prostitute, whose matrimonial sacrifices, paid by demeaning her body, God will not accept. This is so that the children's characters may be generous and virtuous, not being born of base parents nor of the lustful coupling of those who marry women that are not free. 246 If anyone is espoused to a virgin and does not later find her to be so, let him bring his case and accuse her, with such proofs as he has, and let the girl's father or brother, or whoever is her next of kin, defend her. 247 If judgment is in the girl's favour, let her live with her husband who accused her, and let him no longer have power to put her away, unless she gives him major, undeniable grounds. 248 Anyone who brings a brash and groundless accusation against his wife, must be punished by forty stripes save one and pay fifty shekels to her father, but if the girl is found to have been seduced and is a commoner, let her be stoned for not chastely keeping her virginity until she was lawfully married, but if she is the daughter of a priest, let her be burned alive. 249 If anyone has two wives and shows special favour to one of them, whether becaue of his love or her beauty, or any other reason, while showing less favour to the other, and if the son of the beloved is younger than one born of the other wife, but tries to obtain the rights of the first-born because of his father's preference for his mother, and thereby gets the double share of his father's property allotted in the laws, it must not be allowed. 250 When a father's estate is divided, it is wrong to deprive the elder of his due, just because his mother was not as well loved. 251 If a man seduces a girl espoused to another and she consents, let him be put to death along with her, for they are both equally guilty: the man, because he persuaded the woman to a disgraceful act in preference to lawful wedlock, and the woman for letting herself be seduced, whether for pleasure or for gain. 252 But if a man assaults a woman on her own and forces her, with nobody to come to her help, let only him be put to death. One who seduces a virgin not yet espoused should marry her, but if the girl's father does not agree to the marriage, a fine of fifty shekels must be paid for defiling her. 253 Whoever wants to be divorced from his wife for any cause, for such things often happen among men, must give a written assurance never more to claim her as his wife, for by this she gains the right to marry another husband, but may not do so until this bill of divorce is given. If she is also mistreated by the other, or after he dies, if her first husband wants to marry her again, she may not return to him. 254 If a woman's husband dies and leaves her without children, let his brother marry her and let him call the son born to him by his brother's name and educate him as his heir. This is for the public good, for thereby families will not die out and the estate will continue among the clan. It serves for the solace of wives in their loss, that they are to marry a near relative of their former husbands. 255 But if the brother will not marry her, let the woman come before the meeting and publicly protest that this brother will not take her as wife, and insults the memory of his deceased brother though she is willing to stay in the family and bear him children. When the meeting asks why he rejects this marriage, whether the answer he gives is short or long, the matter must be resolved so: 256 The woman shall untie the sandals of the brother and spit in his face and say that he deserves this insult from her, for wronging the memory of the deceased. Let him leave the meeting, carrying this shame all his life, and let her marry any suitor she pleases. 257 If anyone wants to marry one he has taken prisoner, whether a virgin or a married woman, let him not bring her to bed or live with her, until she has shaved her head and put on mourning dress to grieve for her relatives and friends who were killed in the battle. 258 In this way she can express her sorrow for them, before turning to the festivity and marrying; for one who takes a wife to bear him children should attend to her wishes and not merely pursue his own pleasure, regardless of what pleases her. 259 Allowing thirty days as the period of mourning, enough time for sensible women to mourn for dearest friends, then let them go on to the marriage. But if, when he has taken his pleasure, he scorns to keep her as his wife, let him not be entitled to make her a slave, but let her be free to go off wherever she pleases.


260 As for young men who despise their parents and do not honour them, but insult them either out of shame or intellectual pride, let their parents first verbally warn them in words, for they are entitled to judge them. 261 They should say that they came together not merely for pleasure, nor to increase their wealth by uniting their fortunes, but to have children to take care of them in their old age, and to provide for their needs through them. And further: "When you were born, we gladly lifted you up and thanked God for you and carefully reared you, sparing nothing that seemed useful for your safety and teaching you what was best. 262 Now, since it is right to forgive the faults of the young, let this be your last sign of dishonour towards us. Repent and behave better in future, knowing that God is displeased with those who disrespect their parents, as He is the father of the whole human race and seems to share in any indignity shown to those who bear that name, when they do not receive due returns from their children. Such things the law punishes severely, and may you never be subjected to that." 263 If the young men's insolence is cured by this, let them be spared further shame for their errors, for this shows the Legislator as benign and the parents are happy not to see a son or a daughter punished. 264 But if the words and lesson meant to reform the person are in vain, and the offender continues insolent towards his parents, the law's ruthless penalty is exacted. Let his own parents bring him outside the city, along with a crowd, and there let him be stoned, and left there for a whole day for all to see him and then be buried at night. 265 So must all be buried whom the laws condemn to death, on whatever charge. Our enemies who fall in battle must also be buried, and no dead body left to lie above the ground, or made suffer anything more than the just penalty.


266 Let no one lend to any of the Hebrews at interest, nor take interest on food or drink, for it is not right to benefit from the troubles of another citizen. When you have helped his distress, think it a profit if you receive gratitude in return, and God will reward you for your kindness towards him.


267 If one borrows silver or any produce, dry or wet, when things go well by the grace of God let the borrowers bring it back and gladly return it to the lenders, who had set it aside intending to get it back again in time of need. 268 But if shamefully they do not return it, let the lender not go to the borrower's house to seize a deposit until judgment is given about it. He may ask for the deposit and let the debtor bring it, without resisting the one who comes to him with the protection of the law. 269 If the one giving the deposit is rich, the creditor may retain it until what he lent is paid back to him; but if he is poor, let the one taking it return it before sunset, especially if the pledge is a garment, so that the debtor may use it while he sleeps, for God is merciful to the poor. 270 It is also not lawful to take as a pledge a millstone, or any part of it, that the debtors may not lack the means to get their food and be ruined by their want.


271 Let death be the penalty for stealing a man, but whoever steals gold or silver, let him pay back double. If anyone kills a man who is stealing from his house, he shall be guiltless, even if he man were just breaking through the wall. 272 Let whoever steals cattle pay back fourfold, except the case of an ox, for which he must pay fivefold. Whoever is too poor to pay the fine laid upon him shall become a slave to those who had him condemned.


273 If anyone is sold to one of his own nation, he shall be his slave for six years and must be released on the seventh. But if he has a child by a slave girl in the house of his purchaser, and if, out of goodwill and affection for his own, he wishes to continue as a slave, let him be set free only at the year of jubilee, which is the fiftieth year and let him then take away his children and wife as a free woman.


274 If anyone finds gold or silver on the road, let him ask about who lost it, declaring where he found it and return it to him again, not thinking it right to profit by another's loss. The same applies to livestock found straying in a deserted place. If the owner is not found soon, let him who finds it keep it for himself and swear to God that he did not steal what belongs to another.


275 It is not lawful to pass by any beast in distress, if during a storm it is fallen down in the mire, but one must try to save it, having pity on its pain.


276 One must show show the way to those who are lost and not hinder others' business by misleading them for a joke.


Likewise, let no one revile a person who is blind or dumb.


277 If men fight each other and no iron weapon is used, let him who is struck get immediate vengeance by inflicting the same on the one who hit him. If he is brought home and lies sick for many days and then dies, let him who struck him go unpunished, but if he who is struck survives but has spent much for his cure, the striker shall pay for all his expenses during his sickness and all that he has paid the doctors. 278 Whoever kicks a pregnant woman so that she miscarries, must pay her money, as the judges shall decide, for he has harmed the people by killing what was in her womb, and he who kicked her must also pay money to the woman's husband. But if she dies of the blow the man shall be put to death, for the law justly requires a life for a life.


279 Let no Israelite keep any poison that may cause death or any other harm, and if he is caught with it, he must be put to death, to suffer the same fate he would have brought upon those for whom he prepared the poison.


280 Whoever maims a person, must suffer the same himself lose the same member as he took from the other, unless the one who is maimed will accept money instead of it, for the law lets the sufferer judge the value of what he has suffered, and he may take its equivalent if he does not want to be severe.


281 Let the owner kill an ox which gores with his horns. But if it pushes and gores anyone in the threshing-floor, let it be put to death by stoning and not be thought fit for food. But if its owner be found guilty of having known its nature and not keeping it in check, he too must be put to death, as the cause of the ox's killing a man. 282 But if the ox kills a male or female slave let it be stoned, and the owner of the ox must pay thirty shekels to the master of the one who was killed. If what is so struck and killed is another ox, let both oxen, the one striking and the one killed, be sold and let their owners divide the price between them.


283 Let those who dig a well or a cistern be careful to keep them closed over with planks, not in order to stop anyone from drawing water, but to avoid the danger of things falling in. 284 If anyone's beast dies after falling into a well or an open cistern of that kind, let the owner pay the price to the owner of the beast. Also put parapets round the roofs of your houses above the wall, to prevent anyone from rolling down and dying.


285 Let him who holds anything in trust for another, take care of it as a sacred and divine duty, and not plot how to defraud the depositor, whether man or woman, even if he or she stood to gain a huge amount of gold and could avoid being accused by anybody. 286 In all cases a man's own conscience, knowing his own property, should urge him to do what is right, and prompt him to behave in a way that is approved by others, but especially by God, from whom no criminal can hide. 287 If the one with whom goods are deposited loses them by no fault of his own, let him come before the seven judges and swear by God that nothing was lost on purpose, or with fraudulent intention and that he spent no part of it; then let him leave without blame. But if he has used the least part of what was entrusted to him and has lost the rest, he must repay all that he had received. 288 The same applies if one defrauds those who do manual labour for him. We are not to defraud a poor man of his wages, since God has assigned him these wages instead of land and other things. This payment must not be delayed, but be made that very day, since God does not want the laborer deprived of the immediate use of what he has worked for.


289 You must not punish children for the faults of their parents, but for their own sake show them pity rather than hate, for being born of wicked parents. Neither should we impute the sin of children to their parents, since the young may proudly refuse instruction and do many things differently than they were taught.


290 Those who have made themselves eunuchs shall be detested; avoid contact with those who renounce their manhood and the generative power God has given to men to increase their species. Expel them as if they had killed their children, for they have lost what should produce them. 291 Clearly their effeminate soul has caused them to maim their body too. Treat likewise all that is of monstrous appearance, and let it be unlawful to geld men or any other animals.


292 Let this be your peaceful form of society and may God in his mercy keep this excellent constitution untroubled. May there never come a time when you distort anything and change it to the contrary. 293 But since mankind must fall into troubles and dangers, by neglect or deliberately, let us make a few constitutions about them, so that knowing in advance what to do, you have wise advice ready when you need it and not have to wonder what to do and so be unready for times of danger. 294 This land which God gave you, may you work it hard and exercise your souls in good deeds and so possess and enjoy it without wars. May no foreigners invade it to your harm, nor may you suffer from civil strife, 295 causing you to do things contrary to your fathers and to abandon the laws they set up. May you keep to those laws which God has approved and passed on to you. Let all sort of warlike actions, whether now in your own time, or later for your descendants, take place outside your own borders. 296 When you are preparing to go to war, send envoys and heralds to those who want to be your enemies, for you should use words with them before you come to weapons of war, and assure them that although you have a numerous army, with horses and weapons, and also a God who is merciful and ready to help you, you prefer them not to force you to fight them, nor to take from them what they have, even though it will be for our gain, which they have no reason to want us to take to ourselves. 297 If they heed you, you should keep peace with them, but if they think themselves stronger than you and will not give you justice, lead your army against them, with God as your emperor, and appointing as lieutenant under him whoever is bravest among you, since many officers, besides holding up actions that call for speed, are a nuisance to those who have them. 298 Lead a pure army of elite troops, of those distinguished for physical strength and mental bravery, but send away the timid who might run away in time of battle and so be of help to the enemy. Exempt those who have lately built houses and not yet lived in them for a whole year, and those who have planted vineyards and not yet partaken of their fruits. Let them stay in their own region, as well as those recently betrothed or married, who may love their wives so much that they become too careful of their lives, and saving themselves to enjoy them, become cowards on account of their wives.


299 After pitching camp, take care to do nothing cruel. When engaged in a siege and need timber to make war machines, do not strip the land bare by cutting down fruit-trees but spare them, since they were made for human benefit, and if they could speak, they would justly complain that though they did not cause the war, they are mistreated and suffer in it, and would move to another land if they could. 300 When you have defeated your enemies in battle, kill those who fought against you, but spare the others to pay you tax, except the nation of the Canaanites, for that people you must entirely destroy.


301 Take care, especially in your battles, that no woman dress like a man, nor man dress like a woman.


302 This was the polity left us by Moses, when in the fortieth year he wrote the laws which we will discuss in another book. On the following days, for he was continually calling them to assembly, he blessed them and gave them curses on whoever would not live according to the laws but would break the duties decreed for their observance. 303 Then he read to them and left for them in the holy book a poetic song in hexameter verse, predicting what was to happen later. Everything that has happened us down the years, and still happens to us, agrees with this, and he did not deviate from the truth in the least. 304 He entrusted these books to the priests, along with the ark into which he also put the ten commandments, written on two tablets. He also put them in charge of the Tent and urged the people, once they had conquered the land and were settled in it, not to forget the wrongs of the Amalekites, but make war on them and punish them for the harm they did them while they were in the wilderness. 305 Then, when they had taken the land of the Canaanites and had duly destroyed all its inhabitants, to build an altar facing the rising sun, not far from the city of Sikima, between the two mountains, with Garizim on the right hand and Ebal on the left, and with the army divided in two, with six tribes standing on each of the two mountains along with the Levites and priests. 306 Then those who were on Garizim should pray first, for the best of blessings on those who were diligent in worshipping God and in observing his laws and did not reject what Moses had said to them; the other group should also wish them all manner of prosperity, and when these prayed similarly, the others would assent. 307 Then curses were uttered against those who would transgress those laws, with them alternating in response, assenting to what was said. Moses wrote down the blessings and curses for them to learn so fully, that they might never be forgotten for all time. 308 When he was about to die, he wrote these blessings and curses on on each side of the altar, where it says the people also stood. Then he sacrificed and offered holocausts, though from that day on they never offered any other sacrifice upon it, for it was unlawful to do so. These are the constitutions of Moses, and the Hebrew nation still lives by them.


309 Next day, Moses called a meeting of the people including the women and children, and even the slaves were present also, that all could bind themselves by oath to observe these laws, and that, duly considering their divine meaning, they might not, either to favour their relatives, or from fear of anyone, or for any motive whatever, value anything above these laws and so transgress them. 310 If anyone of their own kin or any city should try to pervert or dissolve their rules of life, they should take revenge on them, both as a group and on each individual, and after defeating them, destroy their city to its foundations, and, if possible, leave not the least trace of such folly. If they were unable to take such vengeance, they should still show that it was done against their will. The population bound themselves to this by oath.


311 He also taught them how to make their sacrifices most acceptable to God, and how to go out to war, using the sacred stones, as I have earlier described; and Joshua prophesied in the presence of Moses. 312 When Moses had recounted all he had done for the people's safety, both in war and peace and had composed for them a body of laws and given them an excellent form of government, he foretold, at God's command, that if they abandoned this way of worshipping God, they should experience the following woes: 313 Their enemies would fill the land with weapons of war and their cities would be destroyed and their temple would be burned that they would be sold as slaves, to such people as would have no pity on them in their sufferings; that they would then repent, when that repentance would no way profit them under their sufferings. 314 "Yet," he said, "God who founded your nation will restore your cities to your citizens, and their temple too, but you will suffer this loss not just once but many times."


315 After encouraging Joshua to lead out the army against the Canaanites, telling him that God would help him in all his undertakings and blessing the whole population, he said, "As I am going to my ancestors and God has decided that this is my day to leave them, 316 while I am still alive and present with you I thank him for his providence towards you, which not only saved us from our woes, but gave us such prosperity. He helped me in all my labours and all my plans in caring for your good, and has always shown favour to us. 317 He it was who first guided our affairs and brought them to a happy conclusion, by using me as a general under him and as his minister in those matters where he wanted to do you good. 318 Therefore I must bless the divine Power which will take care of you in the future, to repay my debt to him and leave behind me the memory that we ought to worship and honour him and keep those laws which are the most excellent of all the gifts he has given us, or which, if he continues favouring us, he will later bestow upon us. 319 Even a human lawgiver is a terrible enemy when his laws are affronted and set aside. May you never feel God's displeasure for neglecting the laws, which he, your Creator, has given you."


320 When Moses had so spoken at the end of his life and had blessed them and foretold what would later happen to each of their tribes, the people broke out in tears, and beating their breasts the women showed their grief that he was about to die. The children wept still more, unable to contain their sadness, even at their age being aware of his virtue and mighty deeds. 321 Young and old they rivalled as to who should grieve for him the more, the old, because they knew what a careful protector they would lose and so lamented their future state, and the young not only for that, but also because they were to lose him before they had fully enjoyed his virtue. 322 One can guess at the crowd's excess of sorrow and lament from what happened to the Legislator himself, who always believed he would not be dismayed by the approach of death, since it was according to the will of God and the law of nature, but was so affected by the people's tears that he wept himself. 323 As he went from there to the place where he was to disappear, they all followed him weeping, but Moses beckoned with his hand to those further away and told them to stay quiet, and urged those nearer him not to make his departure so mournful. 324 Willing to grant him this favour, they let him go as he asked and, still weeping, remained in each other's company. The only ones with him were the elders and Eleazar the high priest and Joshua their general. 325 He dismissed the elders when they reached the very high mountain called Abarim, opposite Jericho, looking out over most of the best land of Canaan. 326 Then as he was embracing Eleazar and Joshua and talking with them, suddenly a cloud came down on him and he disappeared in a particular valley. In the holy books he wrote that he died, to prevent them saying that he went to God because of his extraordinary virtue.


327 Moses lived for a hundred and twenty years in all, of which he spent the last third, apart from one month, ruling the people, and he died on the last month of the year, on the first day of the month which the Macedonians call Dystrus, but we call Adar. 328 His understanding surpassed all people that ever were, and he used his knowledge better than anyone else. He was very gracious in speech when addressing the people, and otherwise had such control of his passions, 329 it seemed as if he scarcely felt them in his soul and only knew them by their names, seeing them in others rather than in himself. He was also a military general of the rarest kind, and a prophet without parallel, so that when he spoke one had the impression of hearing the voice of God himself. 330 So the people mourned him for thirty days, and no grief ever touched the Hebrews so deeply as this, at the death of Moses. 331 It was not only those who knew him directly who felt for him, but those who encounter the laws he left behind are strongly attracted to him and through them appreciate his extraordinary virtue. This can suffice as our account of Moses' death.