as Exemplar, in Philo On Abraham
(270) But not only do the oracles bear witness to his faith -- the
queen of all the virtues -- in the Existent One, but also he is
the first whom they dub as "elder" [Gen 24.1], though those who
preceded him had lived three times as long or even more, none of whom
we recognize as worthy of the appellation. (271) And this is as it
should be. For the one who is an elder in truth is considered such not
with reference to length of lifetime, but to a praiseworthy and perfect
life. Those then, who have reached a great age in bodily
existence without beauty and goodness are to be called "aged children,"
having never been schooled in the learning which is worthy of grey
hairs. But the one who has been a lover of sound judgment and wisdom
and faith towards God, one may justly consider to be "elder," a similar
designation to "first." (272) For the wise man is the "first" of the
human race in existence, as a pilot in a ship, a governor in a city, a
general in a war, indeed soul in body, mind in soul; or again, heaven
in world, God in heaven.
(273) . . . God no longer talked with him only as a god might with a
man, but even as a friend with an aquaintance. . . .
(274) "Elder" then, and "first" let the worthy one be and be called.
. . .
(275) Let these things suffice on this subject. But to these great and
many items of praise of the wise man is added as a crowning point, it
says that "this man fulfilled the divine law, and all the commandments
of God" [Gen 26.5], not having been taught by writings, but by what is
unwritten in nature, hastening to obey all healthy and untainted
impulses. And with regard to the things that God promises, what should
people do but to believe them most firmly? (276) Such is the life of
the "first" and founder of the nation -- as some will say, law
abiding, but, as my discourse has shown, himself law and