Continuing . . . .
According to Strabo Moses was an Egyptian priest who established a religion that stood against the traditional focus on idols and sacrifices. “Superstitious” and “legalistic” regulations such as food laws, circumcision, etc. were only introduced after the death of Moses.
35 Moses, namely, was one of the Egyptian priests, and held a part of Lower Egypt, as it is called,
but he went away from there to Judaea, since he was displeased with the state of affairs there, and was accompanied by many people who worshipped the Divine Being.
For he says, and taught, that the Egyptians were mistaken in representing the Divine Being by the images of beasts and cattle, as were also the Libyans; and that the Greeks were also wrong in modelling gods in human form; for, according to him, God is this one thing alone that encompasses us all and encompasses land and sea — the thing which we call heaven, or universe, or the nature of all that exists. What man, then, if he has sense, could be bold enough to fabricate an image of God resembling any creature amongst us? Nay, people should leave off all image-carving, and, setting apart a sacred precinct and a worthy sanctuary, should worship God without an image; and people who have good dreams should sleep in the sanctuary, not only themselves on their own behalf, but also others for the rest of the people; and those who live self-restrained and righteous lives should always expect some blessing or gift or sign from God, but no other should expect them.
36 Now Moses, saying things of this kind, persuaded not a few thoughtful men and led them away to this place where the settlement of Jerusalem now is; and he easily took possession of the place, since it was not a place that would be looked on with envy, nor yet one for which anyone would make a serious fight; for it is rocky, and, although it itself is well supplied with water, its surrounding territory is barren and waterless, and the part of the territory within a radius of sixty stadia is also rocky beneath the surface. At the same time Moses, instead of using arms, put forward as defence his sacrifices and his Divine Being, being resolved to seek a seat of worship for Him and promising to deliver to the people a kind of worship and a kind of ritual which would not oppress those who adopted them either with expenses or with divine obsessions or with other absurd troubles. Now Moses enjoyed fair repute with these people, and organised no ordinary kind of government, since the peoples all round, one and all, came over to him, because of his dealings with them and of the prospects he held out to them.
37 His successors for some time abided by the same course, acting righteously and being truly pious towards God; but afterwards, in the first place, superstitious men were appointed to the priesthood, and then tyrannical people; and from superstition arose abstinence from flesh, from which it is their custom to abstain even to‑day, and circumcisions and excisions and other observances of the kind. And from the tyrannies arose the bands of robbers; for some revolted and harassed the country, both their own country and that of their neighbours, whereas others, co-operating with the rulers, seized the property of others and subdued much of Syria and Phoenicia. But still they had respect for their acropolis, since they did not loathe it as the seat of tyranny, but honoured and revered it as a holy place.
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