Being Guided by the Logos (Parsha Mishpatim Ex. 21:1-24:8)

This coming week’s Torah Parsha (2/13/21) includes these words about an “Angel” which guided the Assembly of Israel:

[20] Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
[21] Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
[22] But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
[23] For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
(Exodus 23:20-23 KJV)

According to Philo of Alexandria, this Angel was a manifestation of the Logos (the Memra, the Word, Reason). This is the rational mind which permeates the universe:

For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason (Logos), his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road.”(Ex 23:20.) (52) Let therefore all the world, the greatest and most perfect flock of the living God, say “The Lord is my shepherd, and he shall cause me to lack nothing,” (Ps. 23:1) (53) and let every separate individual say the same thing; not with the voice which proceeds from his tongue and his mouth, extending only through a scanty portion of the air, but with the wide spreading voice of the mind, which reaches to the very extremities of this universe; for it is impossible that there should be a deficiency of anything that is necessary, where God presides, who is in the habit of bestowing good things in all fulness and completeness in all living beings.
(On Husbandry 51b-55)

(174) for until a man is made perfect he uses divine reason (Logos) as the guide of his path, for that is the sacred oracle of scripture: “Behold, I send my angel before thy face that he may keep thee in the road, so as to lead thee into the land which I have prepared for thee. Attend thou to him, and listen to him; do not disobey him; for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in Him.” (Ex 23:20-21.) (175) But when he has arrived at the height of perfect knowledge, then, running forward vigorously, he keeps up with the speed of him who was previously leading him in his way; for in this way they will both become attendants of God who is the guide of all things; no one of those who hold erroneous opinions accompanying them any longer, and even Lot himself, who turned on one side the soul, which might have been upright and inflexible, removing and living at a distance.
(Migration of Abraham 174-175)

Philo of Alexandria says of the Word (Greek: Logos):

for all other things are intrinsically and by their own nature loose; and if there is any where any thing consolidated, that has been bound by the word of God, for this word is glue and a chain, filling all things with its essence. And the word, which connects together and fastens every thing, is peculiarly full itself of itself, having no need whatever of any thing beyond. (Philo; Who is Heir of all Things? 188)

And he says of the Law, which he elsewhere identifies  with the Word:

(8) If therefore any one wishes to escape from the difficulties of this question which present themselves in the different doubts thus raised, let him speak freely and say that there is nothing in any material of such power as to be able to support this weight of the world. But it is the eternal law of the everlasting God which is the most supporting and firm foundation of the universe. (9) This it is which, being extended from the centre of the borders, and again from the extremities to the centre, runs through the whole unsubdued course of nature, collecting all the parts and binding them firmly together; for the father who created them has made it the indissoluble bond of the universe. (10) Very naturally and appropriately therefore, all earth will not be dissolved by all water, which the bosom of the earth contains, nor will fire be extinguished by air, nor again will air be burnt up by fire, since the divine law establishes itself as a boundary to all these elements, like a vowel among consonants, so that the universe may, as it were, be harmonious in concert with the music expressed by letters; persuasion, by its own authority, putting an end to the threatening conflicts of contrary natures.
(Philo; Concerning Noah’s Work as a Planter 8-10)

Philo also tells us that we should live our lives guided by this Logos (Memra) which is “the intention of nature, in harmony with which the whole universal world is regulated“:

 (3) And his exordium, as I have already said, is most admirable; embracing the creation of the world, under the idea that the law corresponds to the world and the world to the law, and that a man who is obedient to the law, being, by so doing, a citizen of the world, arranges his actions with reference to the intention of nature, in harmony with which the whole universal world is regulated. (Philo; On Creation 3)

Or as he states elsewhere:

…for he [Moses] was not like any ordinary compiler of history, studying to leave behind him records of ancient transactions as memorials to future ages for the mere sake of affording pleasure without any advantage; but he traced back the most ancient events from the beginning of the world, commencing with the creation of the universe, in order to make known two most necessary principles. First, that the same being was the father and creator of the world, and likewise the lawgiver of truth; secondly, that the man who adhered to these laws, and clung closely to a connection with and obedience to nature, would live in a manner corresponding to the arrangement of the universe with a perfect harmony and union, between his words and his actions and between his actions and his words.
(On the Life of Moses 2, 48)

Just as the Assembly of Israel was guided in the wilderness by the Memra (the Logos), we should be guided by the Logos as well, both in being guided by our rational mind, which is a spark of the Logos, and in living our lives in accordance with nature, which is the impression of the Logos on the universe.

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