The Middle Way of Logos is the Royal Road (Parsha Hukkat)

This week we have a double Torah reading in Parsha Hukkat (Num. 19:1-22:1) and Parsha Balak (Num. 22:2-25:9). Included in this reading is this message sent by Moses to the King of Edom:

[14] And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us:
[15] How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers:
[16] And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border:
[17] Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.
(Numbers 20:17 KJV)

Philo of Alexandria comments on this verse saying:

(101) But Moses does not think it right to incline either to the right or to the left, or in short to any part of the earthly Edom; but rather to proceed along the middle way, which he with great propriety calls the royal road, (Num. 20:17.) for since God is the first and only God of the universe, so also the road to him, as being the king’s road, is very properly denominated royal; and this royal road you must consider to be philosophy, not that philosophy which the existing sophistical crowd of men pursues (for they, studying the art of words in opposition to truth, have called crafty wickedness, wisdom, assigning a divine name to wicked action), but that which the ancient company of those men who practised virtue studied, rejecting the persuasive juggleries of pleasure, and adopting a virtuous and austere study of the honourable–(102) this royal road, which we have stated to be true and genuine philosophy, the Torah calls the word and reason (Logos) of God; for it is written, “Thou shalt not turn aside from the word which I command thee this day, to the right hand nor to the left,” So that it is shown most manifestly that the word (logos) of God is identical with the royal road, since Moses’ words are not to depart either from the royal road, or from this word, as if the two were synonymous, but to proceed with an upright mind along the middle and level road, which leads one aright.
(The Posterity and Exile of Cain 101-102)

Philo sees this passage as, by way of allegory, teaching us the virtue of temperance and moderation, as a middle path which is “true and genuine philosophy” embodied in the “word and reason” (Logos) of the “upright mind.”

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