Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Philo's Interpretation of איש Passages in Genesis Chapter 6 [Part Two]

"For these," says he, "are the generations of Noah; Noah was a just man, perfect in his generation, and one who pleased God." (Gen 6:9)

But we must not be ignorant that when he says man here, he does not mean merely to use the common expressions for a rational mortal animal, but that he means to indicate in an eminent degree him who verifies the name, having driven away all the untameable and furious passions and brutal wickednesses of the soul; and as a proof of this, after the word man he adds as an epithet, "the just," saying, "a just man," as if no unjust person were a man at all, but to speak more properly a beast in the likeness of a man, and as if he alone were a man who is an admirer of justice; he also says that he was "perfect," intimating by this expression that he was possessed not of one virtue only but of all, and that being so possessed of them, he constantly exhibited every one of them according to his power and opportunities; and finally crowning him like a wrestler who has gained a glorious victory, he honours him moreover with a most noble proclamation, saying that "he pleased God," (and what can there be in nature that is more excellent than this panegyric?) which is the most visible proof of excellence; for if they who displease God are miserable, those who please him are by all means happy. [De Abrahamo 31 - 36] 

Noah is called "a just man and perfect" (Gen. 6:9), ish tzaddik tamim. So too is Jacob called an ish tam (Gen. 25:27).  A similar meaning is also suggested in Gen. 42:11, 13, where Jacob is called an Ish-echod, which seems to represent him as some form of unified man.

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