Reason Redeems the Man of Virtue (Parsha B’midbar)

This next week’s (May 15th) Torah reading is B’midbar (Num. 1:1-4:20). Includes in this weeks reading is the precept that the Levites redeem the firstborn:

[11] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
[12] And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;
[13] Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.
(Numbers 3:11-13 KJV)

Philo of Alexandria comments on these verses saying:

(124) “For behold,” says he, “I have taken the Levites instead of all the first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel; they shall be their Ransom;”(Numbers 3:12.) therefore we take and give, but we are said to take with strict accuracy, but it is only by a metaphorical abuse of the term that we are said to give, for the reasons which I have already mentioned. And it is very felicitously that he has called the Levites a ransom, for nothing so completely conducts the mind to freedom as its fleeing for refuge to and becoming a suppliant of God; and this is what the consecrated tribe of the Levites particularly professes to be.
(Who is the Heir of Divine Things? 124)

In another place Philo elaborates:

(118) For Moses confesses that the Levites who being taken in exchange for the firstborn, were appointed ministers of him who alone is worthy to be ministered unto, were the ransom of all the rest of the Israelites. “For I,” says God, “behold, I have chosen the Levites out of the midst of the children of Israel, instead of every firstborn that openeth the womb from among the children of Israel; they shall be their ransom and the Levites shall belong to me: for every first-born is mine; from that day in which I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I dedicated to myself all the first-born of Israel.”(Lev. 3:12.) (119) Reason which fled to God and became his suppliant, is what is here called the Levite; God having taken this from the most central and dominant part of the soul, that is to say, having taken it to himself and appropriated it as his own share, thought it worthy of the honour due to the first-born. So that from these it is plain that Reuben is the first-born of Jacob, but Levi the first born of Israel, the one having the honours of seniority according to time, but the other according to dignity and power.
(The Birth of Cain 118-119)

We learned in a previous study that the firstborn are redeemed in the Land of the Caanonites (fluctuation of reason) when “when the most dominant parts of blind passion are destroyed“:

In today’s study, we learn that reason (logos) is that which redeems the firstborn. The firstborn represents the man of virtue, who is freed by reason (logos) from domination by his passions and inclinations, and thru reason, finds refuge from them.

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