Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

By Ronald E. Heine; Origen | Go to book overview

HOMILY XV

On that which is written: "And they went up out of Egypt and came into the land of Chanaan to their father Jacob, and they told him saying, ' Joseph your son is living and has dominion over all the land of Egypt.'"1

WE SHOULD OBSERVE IN READING THE HOLY SCRIPTURES how "to go up" and "to go down" are employed in each individual passage. For if we were to give diligent consideration, we would discover that almost never is anyone said to have gone down to an holy place nor is anyone related to have gone up to a blameworthy place. These observations show that the divine Scripture was not composed, as it seems to most, in illiterate and uncultivated language, but was adapted in accordance with the discipline of divine instruction. Nor is Scripture devoted so much to historical narratives as to things and ideas which are mystical.

You will find it written, therefore, that those who are born of the seed of Abraham have gone down into Egypt and again that the sons of Israel have gone up out of Egypt. Indeed Scripture speaks thus also of Abraham himself: "But Abraham went up out of Egypt into the desert, he and his wife and all that was his, and Lot with him."2 Then afterwards it is said also of Isaac: "The Lord appeared to him and said to him: 'Go not down into Egypt.'"3 But also the Ismaelites who were carrying thymiamata4 and resin and oil of myrrh, who also themselves came from the seed of Abraham, are said to go down into Egypt with whom also Joseph is said to have gone down into Egypt.5 But also after these words Scripture says: " Jacob,

____________________
1
Gn 45.25-26.
2
Gn 13.1.
3
Gn 26.2.
4
Rufinus has the Greek word in his text. It means "incense."
5
Cf. Gn 37.25f.

-203-

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