09/10: Philo on Husbandry
Some time ago I was reading through The Works of Philo. (I still am... it's a long read.) He'd talked a little bit in an earlier part of the book about the difference between a "husbandman" and someone who cultivates the ground. As he puts it:
The generality of men not understanding the nature of things, do also of necessity err with respect to the composition of names; ... For what man is there who is at all hasty in forming an opinion, who would not think that the being a husbandman (geoÁrgia), and the occupying one's self in cultivating the ground (heÁ geÁsergasia), were the same thing? And yet in real truth, not only are these things not the same, but they are even very much separated from one another, so as to be opposed to, and at variance with one another. Philo, "On Husbandry", IIt seemed to me at first that Philo might be splitting his hairs a little too fine. He had made this distinction in an earlier portion of the book, but in this chapter/book (On Husbandry), he really develops the idea. Anyhow, here is the distinction, as Philo puts it:
For a man without any skill may labour at taking care of the land; but if a man is called a husbandman, he, from his mere name, is believed to be no unskilful man, but a farmer of experience, inasmuch as his name (geoÁrgos) has been derived from agricultural skill (geoÁrgikeÁ techneÁ), of which he is the namesake. And besides all this, we must likewise consider this other point, that the tiller of the ground (ho geÁs ergateÁs) looks only to one end, namely, to his wages; for he is altogether a hireling, and has no care whatever to till the land well. But the husbandman (ho geoÁrgos) would be glad also to contribute something of his own, and to spend in addition some of his private resources for the sake of improving the soil, and of avoiding blame from those who understand the business; for his desire is to derive his revenues every year not from any other source, but from his agricultural labours, when they have been brought into a productive state. Philo, "On Husbandry", I
In other words, as the New Testament makes an explicit distinction between the shepherd and the hireling, we learn from Philo here that this distinction can also be found implicitly in the writings of Moses. And, in fact, he finds also the same distinction between a shepherd and a keeper of sheep.
We have now therefore explained, in what respect, the occupation of tilling the ground differs from husbandry, and a tiller of the ground from a husbandman. And we must now consider whether there are not some other species akin to these already mentioned, but which, through the common names borne by them and others, conceal the real difference which exists between them. At least there are two which we have discovered by investigation, concerning which we will say what is fitting, if it is in our power. Therefore, as we found a tiller of the earth and a husbandman, though there did not appear to be any difference between them (till we came to investigate the allegorical meaning concealed under each name), nevertheless very far removed from one another in fact, such also shall we find to be the case with a shepherd and a keeper of sheep. For the lawgiver sometimes speaks of the occupation of a shepherd, and sometimes of that of a keeper of sheep. And those who do not examine expressions with any excessive accuracy, will perhaps fancy that these two appellations are synonymous terms for the same employment. They are, however, in reality the names of things which are widely different in the meaning affixed to their concealed ideas. For if it is customary to give both the names of shepherd and keeper of sheep to those who have the management of flocks, still they do not give these names to that reason which is the superintendent of the flock of the soul; for a man who is but an indifferent manager of a flock is called a keeper of sheep, but a good and faithful one is called a shepherd... Philo, "On Husbandry", VI
So then, Philo expresses this theme as one that one might be able to find generally (though he only identifies the distinction made using two sets of symbols) in the writings of Moses.
I wonder at how apparent this theme was to those who were closer to the language and time-period.
But the providence of God is the principal and almost the only cause that the divisions of the soul are not left entirely without any governor, and that they have met with a blameless and in all respects good shepherd. Philo, "On Husbandry", XII