GUIDE OF THE PERPLEXED.
precede it in the course of our studies, as is clear to all who are familiar with these questions. Therefore the Almighty commenced Holy Writ with the description of the Creation, that is, with Physical Science; the subject on the one hand being most weighty and important, and on the other hand our means of fully comprehending those great problems being limited, He described those profound truths, which His Divine Wisdom found it necessary to communicate to us, in allegorical, figurative, and metaphorical language. Our Sages have said, "It is impossible to give a full account of the Creation to man. Therefore Scripture simply tell us, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. i. 1)." Thus they have suggested that this subject is a deep mystery, and in the words of Solomon, "Far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out?" (Eccles. vii. 24). It has been treated in metaphors in order that the uneducated may comprehend it according to the measure of their faculties and the feebleness of their apprehension, while educated persons may take it in different sense. In the commentary on the Mishnah we stated our intention to explain difficult problems in Sepher ha-nebuah (Book of Prophecy), and in the Sepher ha-shevaah (Book of Harmony.) In the latter we intended to examine all the passages in the Midrash which, if taken literally, appear to be inconsistent with truth and common sense, and must therefore be taken figuratively. Many years have elapsed since I first commenced those works. I had proceeded but a short way when I became dissatisfied with my original plan. For I observed that by expounding these passages by means of allegorical and mystical terms, we do not explain anything, but merely substitute one thing for another of the same nature, whilst in explaining them fully our efforts displease the generality of men; and my sole object in writing those books was to make the contents of Midrashim and the exoteric lessons of the prophecies intelligible to everybody. We have further noticed that when an
- Comp. Maim. Comm. on Mishna Sanhendrin, x. 1.