Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.
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Augustine of Hippo
7. "For thither the tribes went up" (ver. 4). We were asking whither he ascendeth who hath fallen; for we said, it is the voice of a man who is ascending, of the Church rising. Can we tell whither it ascendeth? whither it goeth? whither it is raised? "Thither," he saith, "the tribes went up." Whither? To "partaking in the Same." But what are the tribes? Many know, many know not. For if we use the word "curies" inits proper sense, we understand nothing, save the "curies" which exist in each particular city, whence the terms "curiales" and "decuriones,"that is, the citizens of a curia or a decuria; and ye know that each city hath such curies. But there are, or were at one time, curies of the people in those cities, and one city hath many curies, as Rome hath thirty-five curies of the people? These are called tribes. The people of Israel had twelve of these, according to the sons of Jacob.
8. There were twelve tribes of the people of Israel: but there were good, and there were bad among them. For how evil were those tribes which crucified our Lord! How good those who recognised the Lord! Those tribes then who crucified the Lord, were tribes of the devil. When therefore he here said, "For thither the tribes go up;" that thou mightest not understand all the tribes, he added, "even the tribes of the Lord." ...What are the tribes of the Lord? "A testimony unto Israel." Hear, brethren, what this meaneth. "A testimony to Israel:" that is, whereby it may be known that it is truly Israel ...He is such in whom there is no guile. And what did the Lord say, when He saw Nathanael? "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." If therefore he is a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile, those tribes go up to Jerusalem, in whom there is no guile. ... Wherefore do they go up? "To confess unto Thy Name, O Lord.": It could not be more nobly expressed. As pride presumeth, so doth humility confess. As he is a presumer, who wishes to appear what he is not, so is he a confessor, who does not wish that to be seen which himself is, and loves That which He is. To this therefore do Israelites go up, in whom is no guile, because they are truly Israelites, because in them is the testimony of Israel.