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A Theologico-Political Treatise [Part II] by Benedict de Spinoza

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sold into Egypt to the time when the patriarch Jacob, with all his family,
set out thither, cannot be reckoned as more than twenty-two years, for
Joseph, when he was sold by his brethren, was seventeen years old, and when
he was summoned by Pharaoh from prison was thirty; if to this we add the
seven years of plenty and two of famine, the total amounts to twenty-two
years. (14) Now, in so short a period, no one can suppose that so many
things happened as are described; that Judah had three children, one after
the other, from one wife, whom he married at the beginning of the period;
that the eldest of these, when he was old enough, married Tamar, and that
after he died his next brother succeeded to her; that, after all this,
Judah, without knowing it, had intercourse with his daughter-in-law, and
that she bore him twins, and, finally, that the eldest of these twins became
a father within the aforesaid period. (15) As all these events cannot have
taken place within the period mentioned in Genesis, the reference must
necessarily be to something treated of in another book: and Ezra in this
instance simply related the story, and inserted it without examination among
his other writings.

(16) However, not only this chapter but the whole narrative of Joseph and
Jacob is collected and set forth from various histories, inasmuch as it is
quite inconsistent with itself. (17) For in Gen. xlvii. we are told that
Jacob, when he came at Joseph's bidding to salute Pharaoh, was 130 years
old. (18) If from this we deduct the twenty-two years which he passed
sorrowing for the absence of Joseph and the seventeen years forming Joseph's
age when he was sold, and, lastly, the seven years for which Jacob served
for Rachel, we find that he was very advanced in life, namely, eighty four,
when he took Leah to wife, whereas Dinah was scarcely seven years old when
she was violated by Shechem, [Endnote 14]. (19) Simeon and Levi were aged
respectively eleven and twelve when they spoiled the city and slew all the
males therein with the sword.

(20) There is no need that I should go through the whole Pentateuch. (21) If
anyone pays attention to the way in which all the histories and precepts in
these five books are set down promiscuously and without order, with no
regard for dates; and further, how the same story is often repeated,
sometimes in a different version, he will easily, I say, discern that all
the materials were promiscuously collected and heaped together, in order
that they might at some subsequent time be more readily examined and reduced
to order. (22) Not only these five books, but also the narratives contained
in the remaining seven, going down to the destruction of the city, are
compiled in the same way. (23) For who does not see that in Judges ii:6 a
new historian is being quoted, who had also written of the deeds of Joshua,
and that his words are simply copied? (24) For after our historian has
stated in the last chapter of the book of Joshua that Joshua died and was
buried, and has promised, in the first chapter of Judges, to relate what
happened after his death, in what way, if he wished to continue the thread
of his history, could he connect the statement here made about Joshua with
what had gone before?

(25) So, too, 1 Sam. 17, 18, are taken from another historian, who assigns a
cause for David's first frequenting Saul's court very different from that
given in chap. xvi. of the same book. (26) For he did not think that David
came to Saul in consequence of the advice of Saul's servants, as is
narrated in chap. xvi., but that being sent by chance to the camp by his
father on a message to his brothers, he was for the first time remarked by
Saul on the occasion of his victory, over Goliath the Philistine, and was
retained at his court.

(27) I suspect the same thing has taken place in chap. xxvi. of the same
book, for the historian there seems to repeat the narrative given in chap.
xxiv. according to another man's version. (28) But I pass over this, and go
on to the computation of dates.

(29) In I Kings, chap. vi., it is said that Solomon built the Temple in the
four hundred and eightieth year after the exodus from Egypt; but from the
historians themselves we get a much longer period, for:
Moses governed the people in the desert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Joshua, who lived 110 years, did not, according to Josephus and
others' opinion rule more than . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 26
Cusban Rishathaim held the people in subjection . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Othniel, son of Kenag, was judge for . . . . . . . . . . . [Endnote 15] 40
Eglon, King of Moab, governed the people . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Ehucl and Shamgar were judges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Jachin, King of Canaan, held the people in subjection . . . . . . . . . 20
The people was at peace subsequently for . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . 40
It was under subjection to Median . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 7
It obtained freedom under Gideon for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
It fell under the rule of Abimelech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Tola, son of Puah, was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Jair was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 22
The people was in subjection to the Philistines and Ammonites . . . . . 18
Jephthah was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Ibzan, the Bethlehemite, was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 7
Elon, the Zabulonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Abclon, the Pirathonite . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
The people was again subject to the Philistines . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Samson was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [Endnote 16] 20
Eli was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
The people again fell into subjection to the Philistines,
till they were delivered by Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
David reigned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Solomon reigned before he built the temple . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 4

(30) All these periods added together make a total of 580 years. (31) But to
these must be added the years during which the Hebrew republic flourished
after the death of Joshua, until it was conquered by Cushan Rishathaim,
which I take to be very numerous, for I cannot bring myself to believe that
immediately after the death of Joshua all those who had witnessed his
miracles died simultaneously, nor that their successors at one stroke bid
farewell to their laws, and plunged from the highest virtue into the depth
of wickedness and obstinacy.

(32) Nor, lastly, that Cushan Rishathaim subdued them on the instant; each
one of these circumstances requires almost a generation, and there is no
doubt that Judges ii:7, 9, 10, comprehends a great many years which it
passes over in silence. (33) We must also add the years during which Samuel
was judge, the number of which is not stated in Scripture, and also the
years during which Saul reigned, which are not clearly shown from his
history. (34) It is, indeed, stated in 1 Sam. xiii:1, that he reigned two
years, but the text in that passage is mutilated, and the records of his
reign lead us to suppose a longer period. (35) That the text is mutilated I
suppose no one will doubt who has ever advanced so far as the threshold of
the Hebrew language, for it runs as follows: "Saul was in his -- year, when
he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel." (36) Who, I say,
does not see that the number of the years of Saul's age when he began to
reign has been omitted? (37) That the record of the reign presupposes a
greater number of years is equally beyond doubt, for in the same book, chap.
xxvii:7, it is stated that David sojourned among the Philistines, to whom he
had fled on account of Saul, a year and four months; thus the rest of the
reign must have been comprised in a space of eight months, which I think
no one will credit. (38) Josephus, at the end of the sixth book of his
antiquities, thus corrects the text: Saul reigned eighteen years while
Samuel was alive, and two years after his death. (39) However, all the
narrative in chap. Xiii. is in complete disagreement with what goes before.
(40) At the end of chap. vii. it is narrated that the Philistines were so
crushed by the Hebrews that they did not venture, during Samuel's life, to
invade the borders of Israel; but in chap. xiii. we are told that the
Hebrews were invaded during the life of Samuel by the Philistines, and
reduced by them to such a state of wretchedness and poverty that they were
deprived not only of weapons with which to defend themselves, but also of
the means of making more. (41) I should be at pains enough if I were to try
and harmonize all the narratives contained in this first book of Samuel so
that they should seem to be all written and arranged by a single historian.
(42) But I return to my object. (43) The years, then, during which Saul
reigned must be added to the above computation; and, lastly, I have not
counted the years of the Hebrew anarchy, for I cannot from Scripture gather
their number. (44) I cannot, I say, be certain as to the period occupied by
the events related in Judges chap. xvii. on till the end of the book.

(45) It is thus abundantly evident that we cannot arrive at a true
computation of years from the histories, and, further, that the histories
are inconsistent themselves on the subject. (46) We are compelled to confess
that these histories were compiled from various writers without previous
arrangement and examination. (47) Not less discrepancy is found between the
dates given in the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, and those in the
Chronicles of the Kings of Israel; in the latter, it is stated that Jehoram,
the son of Ahab, began to reign in the second year of the reign of Jehoram,
the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings i:17), but in the former we read that
Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, began to reign in the fifth year of
Jehoram, the son of Ahab (2 Kings viii:16). (48) Anyone who compares the
narratives in Chronicles with the narratives in the books of Kings, will
find many similar discrepancies. (49) These there is no need for me to
examine here, and still less am I called upon to treat of the commentaries
of those who endeavour to harmonize them. (50) The Rabbis evidently let
their fancy run wild. (51) Such commentators as I have, read, dream, invent,
and as a last resort, play fast and loose with the language. (52) For
instance, when it is said in 2 Chronicles, that Ahab was forty-two years old
when he began to reign, they pretend that these years are computed from the
reign of Omri, not from the birth of Ahab. If this can be shown to be the
real meaning of the writer of the book of Chronicles, all I can say is, that
he did not know how to state a fact. (53) The commentators make many other
assertions of this kind, which if true, would prove that the ancient Hebrews
were ignorant both of their own language, and of the way to relate a plain
narrative. (54) I should in such case recognize no rule or reason in
interpreting Scripture, but it would be permissible to hypothesize to one's
heart's content.

(55) If anyone thinks that I am speaking too generally, and without
sufficient warrant, I would ask him to set himself to showing us some fixed
plan in these histories which might be followed without blame by other
writers of chronicles, and in his efforts at harmonizing and interpretation,
so strictly to observe and explain the phrases and expressions, the order
and the connections, that we may be able to imitate these also in our
writings, [Endnote 17]. (56) If he succeeds, I will at once give him my
hand, and he shall be to me as great Apollo; for I confess that after long
endeavours I have been unable to discover anything of the kind. (57) I may
add that I set down nothing here which I have not long reflected upon, and
that, though I was imbued from my boyhood up with the ordinary opinions
about the
Scriptures, I have been unable to withstand the force of what I have urged.

(58) However, there is no need to detain the reader with this question, and
drive him to attempt an impossible task; I merely mentioned the fact in
order to throw light on my intention.

(59) I now pass on to other points concerning the treatment of these books.
(60) For we must remark, in addition to what has been shown, that these
books were not guarded by posterity with such care that no faults crept in.
(61) The ancient scribes draw attention to many doubtful readings, and some
mutilated passages, but not to all that exist: whether the commentaries of
those who endeavour to harmonize them. (62) The Rabbis evidently let their
fancy run wild. (63) Such commentators as I have, read, dream, invent, and
as a last resort, play fast and loose with the language. (64) For instance,
when it is said in 2 Chronicles, that Ahab was forty-two years old when he
began to reign, they pretend that these years are computed from the reign of
Omri, not from the birth of Ahab. (65) If this can be shown to be the real
meaning of the writer of the book of Chronicles, all I can say is, that he
did not know how to state a fact. (66) The commentators make many other
assertions of this kind, which if true, would prove that the ancient Hebrews
were ignorant both of their own language, and of the way to relate a plain
narrative. (67) I should in such case recognize no rule or reason in
interpreting Scripture, but it would be permissible to hypothesize to one's
heart's content.

(68) If anyone thinks that I am speaking too generally, and without
sufficient warrant, I would ask him to set himself to showing us some fixed
plan in these histories which might be followed without blame by other
writers of chronicles, and in his efforts at harmonizing and interpretation,
so strictly to observe and explain the phrases and expressions, the order
and the connections, that we may be able to imitate these also in our
writings (17). (69) If he succeeds, I will at once give him my hand, and he
shall be to me as great Apollo; for I confess that after long endeavours I
have been unable to discover anything of the kind. (70) I may add that I set
down nothing here which I have not long reflected upon, and that, though I
was imbued from my boyhood up with the ordinary opinions about the
Scriptures, I have been unable to withstand the force of what I have urged.

(71) However, there is no need to detain the reader with this question, and
drive him to attempt an impossible task; I merely mentioned the fact in
order to throw light on my intention.

(72) I now pass on to other points concerning the treatment of these books.
(73) For we must remark, in addition to what has been shown, that these
books were not guarded by posterity with such care that no faults crept in.
(74) The ancient scribes draw attention to many doubtful readings, and some
mutilated passages, but not to all that exist: whether the faults are
of sufficient importance to greatly, embarrass the reader I will not now
discuss. (75) I am inclined to think that they are of minor moment to those,
at any rate, who read the Scriptures with enlightenment: and I can
positively, affirm that I have not noticed any fault or various reading in
doctrinal passages sufficient to render them obscure or doubtful.

(76) There are some people, however, who will not admit that there is any
corruption, even in other passages, but maintain that by some unique
exercise of providence God has preserved from corruption every word in the
Bible: they say that the various readings are the symbols of profoundest
mysteries, and that mighty secrets lie hid in the twenty-eight hiatus which
occur, nay, even in the very form of the letters.

(77) Whether they are actuated by folly and anile devotion, or whether by
arrogance and malice so that they alone may be held to possess the secrets
of God, I know not: this much I do know, that I find in their writings
nothing which has the air of a Divine secret, but only childish
lucubrations. (78) I have read and known certain Kabbalistic triflers, whose
insanity provokes my unceasing as astonishment. (79) That faults have crept
in will, I think, be denied by no sensible person who reads the passage
about Saul, above quoted (1 Sam. xiii:1) and also 2 Sam. vi:2: "And David
arose and went with all the people that were with him from Judah, to bring
up from thence the ark of God."

(80) No one can fail to remark that the name of their destination, viz.,
Kirjath-jearim [Endnotee 18], has been omitted: nor can we deny that
2 Sam. xiii:37, has been tampered with and mutilated. "And Absalom fled, and
went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. (81) And he mourned for
his son every day. So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three
years." (82) I know that I have remarked other passages of the same kind,
but I cannot recall them at the moment.

(83) That the marginal notes which are found continually in the Hebrew
Codices are doubtful readings will, I think, be evident to everyone who has
noticed that they often arise from the great similarity, of some of the
Hebrew letters, such for instance, as the similarity between Kaph and Beth,
Jod and Van, Daleth and Reth, &c. (84) For example, the text in
2 Sam. v:24, runs "in the time when thou hearest," and similarly in
Judges xxi:22, "And it shall be when their fathers or their brothers come
unto us often," the marginal version is "come unto us to complain."

(85) So also many various readings have arisen from the use of the letters
named mutes, which are generally not sounded in pronunciation, and are taken
promiscuously, one for the other. (86) For example, in Levit. xxv:29, it is
written, "The house shall be established which is not in the walled city,"
but the margin has it, "which is in a walled city."

(87) Though these matters are self-evident, [Endnore 6], it is necessary, to
answer the reasonings of certain Pharisees, by which they endeavour to
convince us that the marginal notes serve to indicate some mystery, and were
added or pointed out by the writers of the sacred books. (88) The first of
these reasons, which, in my, opinion, carries little weight, is taken from
the practice of reading the Scriptures aloud.

(89) If, it is urged, these notes were added to show various readings which
could not be decided upon by posterity, why has custom prevailed that the
marginal readings should always be retained? (90) Why has the meaning which
is preferred been set down in the margin when it ought to have been
incorporated in the text, and not relegated to a side note?

(91) The second reason is more specious, and is taken from the nature of the
case. (92) It is admitted that faults have crept into the sacred writings by
chance and not by design; but they say that in the five books the word for a
girl is, with one exception, written without the letter "he," contrary to
all grammatical rules, whereas in the margin it is written correctly
according to the universal rule of grammar. (93) Can this have happened by
mistake? Is it possible to imagine a clerical error to have been committed
every, time the word occurs? (94) Moreover, it would have been easy, to
supply the emendation. (95) Hence, when these readings are not accidental
or corrections of manifest mistakes, it is supposed that they must have been
set down on purpose by the original writers, and have a meaning. (96)
However, it is easy to answer such arguments; as to the question of custom
having prevailed in the reading of the marginal versions, I will not spare
much time for its consideration: I know not the promptings of superstition,
and perhaps the practice may have arisen from the idea that both readings
were deemed equally good or tolerable, and therefore, lest either should be
neglected, one was appointed to be written, and the other to be read. (97)
They feared to pronounce judgment in so weighty a matter lest they should
mistake the false for the true, and therefore they would give preference to
neither, as they must necessarily have done if they had commanded one only
to be both read and written. (98) This would be especially the case where
the marginal readings were not written down in the sacred books: or the
custom may have originated because some things though rightly written down
were desired to be read otherwise according to the marginal version, and
therefore the general rule was made that the marginal version should be
followed in reading the Scriptures. (99) The cause which induced the scribes
to expressly prescribe certain passages to be read in the marginal version,
I will now touch on, for not all the marginal notes are various readings,
but some mark expressions which have passed out of common use, obsolete
words and terms which current decency did not allow to be read in a public
assembly. (100) The ancient writers, without any evil intention, employed no
courtly paraphrase, but called things by their plain names. (101)
Afterwards, through the spread of evil thoughts and luxury, words which
could be used by the ancients without offence, came to be considered
obscene. (102) There was no need for this cause to change the text of
Scripture. (103) Still, as a concession to the popular weakness, it became
the custom to substitute more decent terms for words denoting sexual
intercourse, exereta, &c., and to read them as they were given in the

(104) At any rate, whatever may have been the origin of the practice of
reading Scripture according to the marginal version, it was not that the
true interpretation is contained therein. (105) For besides that, the
Rabbins in the Talmud often differ from the Massoretes, and give other
readings which they approve of, as I will shortly show, certain things are
found in the margin which appear less warranted by the uses of the Hebrew
language. (106) For example, in 2 Samuel xiv:22, we read, "In that the king
hath fulfilled the request of his servant," a construction plainly
regular, and agreeing with that in chap. xvi. (107) But the margin has it
"of thy servant," which does not agree with the person of the verb. (108)
So, too, chap. xvi:25 of the same book, we find, "As if one had inquired at
the oracle of God," the margin adding "someone" to stand as a nominative to
the verb. (109) But the correction is not apparently warranted, for it is
a common practice, well known to grammarians in the Hebrew language, to use
the third person singular of the active verb impersonally.

(110) The second argument advanced by the Pharisees is easily answered from
what has just been said, namely, that the scribes besides the various
readings called attention to obsolete words. (111) For there is no doubt
that in Hebrew as in other languages, changes of use made many words
obsolete and antiquated, and such were found by the later scribes in the
sacred books and noted by them with a view to the books being publicly read
according to custom. (112) For this reason the word nahgar is always found
marked because its gender was originally common, and it had the same meaning
as the Latin juvenis (a young person). (113) So also the Hebrew capital was
anciently called Jerusalem, not Jerusalaim. (114) As to the pronouns himself
and herself, I think that the later scribes changed vau into jod (a very
frequent change in Hebrew) when they wished to express the feminine gender,
but that the ancients only distinguished the two genders by a change of
vowels. (115) I may also remark that the irregular tenses of certain verbs
differ in the ancient and modern forms, it being formerly considered a mark
of elegance to employ certain letters agreeable to the ear.

(116) In a word, I could easily multiply proofs of this kind if I were not
afraid of abusing the patience of the reader. (117) Perhaps I shall be asked
how I became acquainted with the fact that all these expressions are
obsolete. (118) I reply that I have found them in the most ancient Hebrew
writers in the Bible itself, and that they have not been imitated by
subsequent authors, and thus they are recognized as antiquated, though the
language in which they occur is dead. (119) But perhaps someone may press
the question why, if it be true, as I say, that the marginal notes of the
Bible generally mark various readings, there are never more than two
readings of a passage, that in the text and that in the margin, instead of
three or more; and further, how the scribes can have hesitated between two
readings, one of which is evidently contrary to grammar, and the other a
plain correction.

(120) The answer to these questions also is easy: I will premise that it is
almost certain that there once were more various readings than those now
recorded. (121) For instance, one finds many in the Talmud which the
Massoretes have neglected, and are so different one from the other that
even the superstitious editor of the Bomberg Bible confesses that he cannot
harmonize them. (122) "We cannot say anything," he writes, "except what we
have said above, namely, that the Talmud is generally in contradiction to
the Massorete." (123) So that we are nor bound to hold that there never were
more than two readings of any passage, yet I am willing to admit, and
indeed I believe that more than two readings are never found: and for the
following reasons:-(124) (I.) The cause of the differences of reading only
admits of two, being generally the similarity of certain letters, so that
the question resolved itself into which should be written Beth, or Kaf,
Jod or Vau, Daleth or Reth: cases which are constantly occurring, and
frequently yielding a fairly good meaning whichever alternative be adopted.
(125) Sometimes, too, it is a question whether a syllable be long or short,
quantity being determined by the letters called mutes. (126) Moreover, we
never asserted that all the marginal versions, without exception, marked
various readings; on the contrary, we have stated that many were due to
motives of decency or a desire to explain obsolete words. (127) (II.) I am
inclined to attribute the fact that more than two readings are never found
to the paucity of exemplars, perhaps not more than two or three, found by
the scribes. (128) In the treatise of the scribes, chap. vi., mention is
made of three only, pretended to have been found in the time of Ezra, in
order that the marginal versions might be attributed to him.

(129) However that may be, if the scribes only had three codices we may
easily imagine that in a given passage two of them would be in accord, for
it would be extraordinary if each one of the three gave a different reading
of the same text.

(130) The dearth of copies after the time of Ezra will surprise no one who
has read the 1st chapter of Maccabees, or Josephus's "Antiquities," Bk. 12,
chap. 5. (131) Nay, it appears wonderful considering the fierce and daily
persecution, that even these few should have been preserved. (132) This
will, I think, be plain to even a cursory reader of the history of those

(133) We have thus discovered the reasons why there are never more than two
readings of a passage in the Bible, but this is a long way from supposing
that we may therefore conclude that the Bible was purposely written
incorrectly in such passages in order to signify some mystery. (134) As to
the second argument, that some passages are so faultily written that they
are at plain variance with all grammar, and should have been corrected in
the text and not in the margin, I attach little weight to it, for I am not
concerned to say what religious motive the scribes may have had for acting
as they did: possibly they did so from candour, wishing to transmit the few
exemplars of the Bible which they had found exactly in their original state,
marking the differences they discovered in the margin, not as doubtful
readings, but as simple variants. (135) I have myself called them doubtful
readings, because it would be generally impossible to say which of the two
versions is preferable.

(136) Lastly, besides these doubtful readings the scribes have (by leaving a
hiatus in the middle of a paragraph) marked several passages as mutilated.
(137) The Massoretes have counted up such instances, and they amount to
eight-and-twenty. (138) I do not know whether any mystery is thought to lurk
in the number, at any rate the Pharisees religiously preserve a certain
amount of empty space.

(139) One of such hiatus occurs (to give an instance) in Gen. iv:8, where it
is written, "And Cain said to his brother . . . . and it came to pass while
they were in the field, &c.," a space being left in which we should expect
to hear what it was that Cain said.

(140) Similarly there are (besides those points we have noticed) eight-and-
twenty hiatus left by the scribes. (141) Many of these would not be
recognized as mutilated if it were not for the empty space left. But I have
said enough on this subject.


(1) I now pass on to the remaining books of the Old Testament. (2)
Concerning the two books of Chronicles I have nothing particular or
important to remark, except that they were certainly written after the time
of Ezra, and possibly after the restoration of the Temple by Judas
Maccabaeus [Endnote 19]. (2) For in chap. ix. of the first book we find a
reckoning of the families who were the first to live in Jerusalem, and in
verse 17 the names of the porters, of which two recur in Nehemiah. (3) This
shows that the books were certainly compiled after the rebuilding of the
city. (4) As to their actual writer, their authority, utility, and doctrine,
I come to no conclusion. (5) I have always been astonished that they have
been included in the Bible by men who shut out from the canon the books of
Wisdom, Tobit, and the others styled apocryphal. (6) I do not aim at
disparaging their authority, but as they are universally received I will
leave them as they are.

(7) The Psalms were collected and divided into five books in the time of the
second temple, for Ps. lxxxviii. was published, according to Philo-Judaeus,
while king Jehoiachin was still a prisoner in Babylon; and Ps. lxxxix. when
the same king obtained his liberty: I do not think Philo would have made the
statement unless either it had been the received opinion in his time, or
else had been told him by trustworthy persons.

(8) The Proverbs of Solomon were, I believe, collected at the same time, or
at least in the time of King Josiah; for in chap. xxv:1, it is written,
"These are also proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of
Judah, copied out." (9) I cannot here pass over in silence the audacity
of the Rabbis who wished to exclude from the sacred canon both the Proverbs
and Ecclesiastes, and to put them both in the Apocrypha. (10) In fact, they
would actually have done so, if they had not lighted on certain passages in
which the law of Moses is extolled. (11) It is, indeed, grievous to think
that the settling of the sacred canon lay in the hands of such men; however,
I congratulate them, in this instance, on their suffering us to see these
books in question, though I cannot refrain from doubting whether they have
transmitted them in absolute good faith; but I will not now linger on this

(10) I pass on, then, to the prophetic books. (11) An examination of these
assures me that the prophecies therein contained have been compiled from
other books, and are not always set down in the exact order in which they
were spoken or written by the prophets, but are only such as were collected
here and there, so that they are but fragmentary.

(12) Isaiah began to prophecy in the reign of Uzziah, as the writer himself
testifies in the first verse. (13) He not only prophesied at that time, but
furthermore wrote the history of that king (see 2 Chron. xxvi:22) in a
volume now lost. (13) That which we possess, we have shown to have been
taken from the chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel.

(14) We may add that the Rabbis assert that this prophet prophesied in the
reign of Manasseh, by whom he was eventually put to death, and, although
this seems to be a myth, it yet shows that they did not think that all
Isaiah's prophecies are extant.

(15) The prophecies of Jeremiah, which are related historically are also
taken from various chronicles; for not only are they heaped together
confusedly, without any account being taken of dates, but also the same
story is told in them differently in different passages. (16) For instance,
in chap. xxi. we are told that the cause of Jeremiah's arrest was that he
had prophesied the destruction of the city to Zedekiah who consulted him.
(17) This narrative suddenly passes, in chap xxii., to the prophet's
remonstrances to Jehoiakim (Zedekiah's predecessor), and the prediction he
made of that king's captivity; then, in chap. xxv., come the revelations
granted to the prophet previously, that is in the fourth year of Jehoiakim,
and, further on still, the revelations received in the first year of the
same reign. (18) The continuator of Jeremiah goes on heaping prophecy
upon prophecy without any regard to dates, until at last, in chap. xxxviii.
(as if the intervening chapters had been a parenthesis), he takes up the
thread dropped in. chap. xxi.

(19) In fact, the conjunction with which chap. xxxviii. begins, refers to
the 8th, 9th, and 10th verses of chap. xxi. Jeremiah's last arrest is then
very differently described, and a totally separate cause is given for his
daily retention in the court of the prison.

(20) We may thus clearly see that these portions of the book have been
compiled from various sources, and are only from this point of view
comprehensible. (21) The prophecies contained in the remaining chapters,
where Jeremiah speaks in the first person, seem to be taken from a
book written by Baruch, at Jeremiah's dictation. (22) These, however, only
comprise (as appears from chap. xxxvi:2) the prophecies revealed to the
prophet from the time of Josiah to the fourth year of Jehoiakim, at which
period the book begins. (23) The contents of chap. xlv:2, on to chap.
li:59, seem taken from the same volume.

(24) That the book of Ezekiel is only a fragment, is clearly indicated by
the first verse. (25) For anyone may see that the conjunction with which it
begins, refers to something already said, and connects what follows
therewith. (26) However, not only this conjunction, but the whole text
of the discourse implies other writings. (27) The fact of the present work
beginning the thirtieth year shows that the prophet is continuing, not
commencing a discourse; and this is confirmed by the writer, who
parenthetically states in verse 3, "The word of the Lord came often unto
Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans," as if to
say that the prophecies which he is about to relate are the sequel to
revelations formerly received by Ezekiel from God. (28) Furthermore,
Josephus, 11 Antiq." x:9, says that Ezekiel prophesied that Zedekiah should
not see Babylon, whereas the book we now have not only contains no such
statement, but contrariwise asserts in chap. xvii. that he should be taken
to Babylon as a captive, [Endnote 20].

(29) Of Hosea I cannot positively state that he wrote more than is now
extant in the book bearing his name, but I am astonished at the smallness of
the quantity, we possess, for the sacred writer asserts that the prophet
prophesied for more than eighty years.

(30) We may assert, speaking generally, that the compiler of the prophetic
books neither collected all the prophets, nor all the writings of those we
have; for of the prophets who are said to have prophesied in the reign of
Manasseh and of whom general mention is made in 2 Chron. xxxiii:10, 18, we
have, evidently, no prophecies extant; neither have we all the prophecies of
the twelve who give their names to books. (31) Of Jonah we have only, the
prophecy concerning the Ninevites, though he also prophesied to the children
of Israel, as we learn in 2 Kings xiv:25.

(32) The book and the personality of Job have caused much controversy. (33)
Some think that the book is the work of Moses, and the whole narrative
merely allegorical. (34) Such is the opinion of the Rabbins recorded in the
Talmud, and they are supported by, Maimonides in his "More Nebuchim." (35)
Others believe it to be a true history, and some suppose that Job lived in
the time of Jacob, and was married to his daughter Dinah. (36) Aben Ezra,
however, as I have already stated, affirms, in his commentaries, that the
work is a translation into Hebrew from some other language: I could wish
that he could advance more cogent arguments than he does, for we might then
conclude that the Gentiles also had sacred books. (37) I myself leave the
matter undecided, but I conjecture Job to have been a Gentile, and a man of
very stable character, who at first prospered, then was assailed with
terrible calamities, and finally, was restored to great happiness. (38) (He
is thus named, among others, by Ezekiel, xiv:12.) (39) I take it that the
constancy of his mind amid the vicissitudes of his fortune occasioned many
men to dispute about God's providence, or at least caused the writer of the
book in question to compose his dialogues; for the contents, and also the
style, seem to emanate far less from a man wretchedly ill and lying among
ashes, than from one reflecting at ease in his study. (40) I should also be
inclined to agree with Aben Ezra that the book is a translation, for its
poetry seems akin to that of the Gentiles; thus the Father of Gods summons a
council, and Momus, here called Satan, criticizes the Divine decrees with
the utmost freedom. (41) But these are mere conjectures without any solid

(42) I pass on to the book of Daniel, which, from chap. viii. onwards,
undoubtedly contains the writing of Daniel himself. (43) Whence the first
seven chapters are derived I cannot say; we may, however, conjecture that,
as they were first written in Chaldean, they are taken from Chaldean
chronicles. (44) If this could be proved, it would form a very striking
proof of the fact that the sacredness of Scripture depends on our
understanding of the doctrines therein signified, and not on the words, the
language, and the phrases in which these doctrines are conveyed to us;
and it would further show us that books which teach and speak of whatever is
highest and best are equally sacred, whatever be the tongue in which they
are written, or the nation to which they belong.

(45) We can, however, in this case only remark that the chapters in question
were written in Chaldee, and yet are as sacred as the rest of the Bible.

(46) The first book of Ezra is so intimately connected with the book of
Daniel that both are plainly recognizable as the work of the same author,
writing of Jewish history from the time of the first captivity onwards. (47)
I have no hesitation in joining to this the book of Esther, for the
conjunction with which it begins can refer to nothing else. (48) It cannot
be the same work as that written by Mordecai, for, in chap. ix:20-22,
another person relates that Mordecai wrote letters, and tells us their
contents; further, that Queen Esther confirmed the days of Purim in their
times appointed, and that the decree was written in the book that is (by a
Hebraism), in a book known to all then living, which, as Aben Ezra and the
rest confess, has now perished. (49) Lastly, for the rest of the acts of
Mordecai, the historian refers us to the chronicles of the kings of
Persia. (50) Thus there is no doubt that this book was written by the same
person as he who recounted the history of Daniel and Ezra, and who wrote
Nehemiah, [Endnote 21], sometimes called the second book of Ezra. (51) We
may, then, affirm that all these books are from one hand; but we /have no
clue whatever to the personality of the author. (52) However, in order to
determine whence he, whoever he was, had gained a knowledge of the histories
which he had, perchance, in great measure himself written, we may remark
that the governors or chiefs of the Jews, after the restoration of the
Temple, kept scribes or historiographers, who wrote annals or chronicles of
them. (53) The chronicles of the kings are often quoted in the books of
Kings, but the chronicles of the chiefs and priests are quoted for the first
time in Nehemiah xii:23, and again in 1 Macc. xvi:24. (54) This is
undoubtedly the book referred to as containing the decree of Esther and the
acts of Mordecai; and which, as we said with Aben Ezra, is now lost. (55)
From it were taken the whole contents of these four books, for no other
authority is quoted by their writer, or is known to us.

(56) That these books were not written by either Ezra or Nehemiah is plain
from Nehemiah xii:9, where the descendants of the high priest, Joshua are
traced down to Jaddua, the sixth high priest, who went to meet Alexander the
Great, when the Persian empire was almost subdued (Josephus, "Ant." ii.
108), or who, according to Philo-Judaeus, was the sixth and last high priest
under the Persians. (57) In the same chapter of Nehemiah, verse 22, this
point is clearly brought out: "The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada,
and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the
priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian" - that is to say, in the
chronicles; and, I suppose, no one thinks, [Endnote 22], that the lives of
Nehemiah and Ezra were so prolonged that they outlived fourteen kings of
Persia. (58) Cyrus was the first who granted the Jews permission to rebuild
their Temple: the period between his time and Darius, fourteenth and last
king of Persia, extends over 230 years. (59) I have, therefore, no doubt
that these books were written after Judas Maccabaeus had restored the
worship in the Temple, for at that time false books of Daniel, Ezra, and
Esther were published by evil-disposed persons, who were almost certainly
Sadducees, for the writings were never recognized by the Pharisees, so far
as I am aware; and, although certain myths in the fourth book of Ezra are
repeated in the Talmud, they must not be set down to the Pharisees, for all
but the most ignorant admit that they have been added by some trifler: in
fact, I think, someone must have made such additions with a view to casting
ridicule on all the traditions of the sect.

(60) Perhaps these four books were written out and published at the time I
have mentioned with a view to showing the people that the prophecies of
Daniel had been fulfilled, and thus kindling their piety, and awakening a
hope of future deliverance in the midst of their misfortunes. (61) In
spite of their recent origin, the books before us contain many errors, due,
I suppose, to the haste with which they were written. (62) Marginal
readings, such as I have mentioned in the last chapter, are found here as
elsewhere, and in even greater abundance; there are, moreover, certain
passages which can only be accounted for by supposing some such cause as

(63) However, before calling attention to the marginal readings, I will
remark that, if the Pharisees are right in supposing them to have been
ancient, and the work of the original scribes, we must perforce admit that
these scribes (if there were more than one) set them down because they
found that the text from which they were copying was inaccurate, and did yet
not venture to alter what was written by their predecessors and superiors.
(64) I need not again go into the subject at length, and will, therefore,
proceed to mention some discrepancies not noticed in the margin.

(65) I. Some error has crept into the text of the second chapter of Ezra,
for in verse 64 we are told that the total of all those mentioned in the
rest of the chapter amounts to 42,360; but, when we come to add up the
several items we get as result only 29,818. (66) There must, therefore, be
an error, either in the total, or in the details. (67) The total is probably
correct, for it would most likely be well known to all as a noteworthy
thing; but with the details, the case would be different. (68) If, then, any
error had crept into the total, it would at once have been remarked, and
easily corrected. (69) This view is confirmed by Nehemiah vii., where this
chapter of Ezra is mentioned, and a total is given in plain correspondence
thereto; but the details are altogether different - some are larger, and
some less, than those in Ezra, and altogether they amount to 31,089.
(70) We may, therefore, conclude that both in Ezra and in Nehemiah the
details are erroneously given. (71) The commentators who attempt to
harmonize these evident contradictions draw on their imagination, each to
the best of his ability; and while professing adoration for each letter and
word of Scripture, only succeed in holding up the sacred writers to
ridicule, as though they knew not how to write or relate a plain narrative.
(72) Such persons effect nothing but to render the clearness of Scripture
obscure. (73) If the Bible could everywhere be interpreted after their
fashion, there would be no such thing as a rational statement of which
the meaning could be relied on. (74) However, there is no need to dwell on
the subject; only I am convinced that if any historian were to attempt to
imitate the proceedings freely attributed to the writers of the Bible, the
commentators would cover him with contempt. (75) If it be blasphemy to
assert that there are any errors in Scripture, what name shall we apply to
those who foist into it their own fancies, who degrade the sacred writers
till they seem to write confused nonsense, and who deny the plainest and
most evident meanings? (76) What in the whole Bible can be plainer than the
fact that Ezra and his companions, in the second chapter of the book
attributed to him, have given in detail the reckoning of all the Hebrews who
set out with them for Jerusalem? (77) This is proved by the reckoning being
given, not only of those who told their lineage, but also of those who were
unable to do so. (78) Is it not equally clear from Nehemiah vii:5, that the
writer merely there copies the list given in Ezra? (79) Those, therefore,
who explain these pas sages otherwise, deny the plain meaning of Scripture -
nay, they deny Scripture itself. (80) They think it pious to reconcile one
passage of Scripture with another - a pretty piety, forsooth, which
accommodates the clear passages to the obscure, the correct to the faulty,
the sound to the corrupt.

(81) Far be it from me to call such commentators blasphemers, if their
motives be pure: for to err is human. But I return to my subject.

(82) Besides these errors in numerical details, there are others in the
genealogies, in the history, and, I fear also in the prophecies. (83) The
prophecy of Jeremiah (chap. xxii.), concerning Jechoniah, evidently does not
agree with his history, as given in I Chronicles iii:17-19, and especially
with the last words of the chapter, nor do I see how the prophecy, "thou
shalt die in peace," can be applied to Zedekiah, whose eyes were dug out
after his sons had been slain before him. (84) If prophecies are to be
interpreted by their issue, we must make a change of name, and read
Jechoniah for Zedekiah, and vice versa (85) This, however, would be too
paradoxical a proceeding; so I prefer to leave the matter unexplained,
especially as the error, if error there be, must be set down to the
historian, and not to any fault in the authorities.

(86) Other difficulties I will not touch upon, as I should only weary the
reader, and, moreover, be repeating the remarks of other writers. (87) For
R. Selomo, in face of the manifest contradiction in the above-mentioned
genealogies, is compelled to break forth into these words (see his
commentary on 1 Chron. viii.): "Ezra (whom he supposes to be the author of
the book of Chronicles) gives different names and a different genealogy to
the sons of Benjamin from those which we find in Genesis, and describes most
of the Levites differently from Joshua, because he found original
discrepancies." (88) And, again, a little later: "The genealogy of Gibeon
and others is described twice in different ways, from different tables of
each genealogy, and in writing them down Ezra adopted the version given in
the majority of the texts, and when the authority was equal he gave both."
(89) Thus granting that these books were compiled from sources originally
incorrect and uncertain.

(90) In fact the commentators, in seeking to harmonize difficulties,
generally do no more than indicate their causes: for I suppose no sane
person supposes that the sacred historians deliberately wrote with the
object of appearing to contradict themselves freely. (91) Perhaps I
shall be told that I am overthrowing the authority of Scripture, for that,
according to me, anyone may suspect it of error in any passage; but, on the
contrary, I have shown that my object has been to prevent the clear and
uncorrupted passages being accommodated to and corrupted by the faulty ones;
neither does the fact that some passages are corrupt warrant us in
suspecting all. (92) No book ever was completely free from faults, yet I
would ask, who suspects all books to be everywhere faulty? (93) Surely no
one, especially when the phraseology is clear and the intention of the
author plain.

(94) I have now finished the task I set myself with respect to the books of
the Old Testament. (95) We may easily conclude from what has been said, that
before the time of the Maccabees there was no canon of sacred books,
[Endnote 23], but that those which we now possess were selected from a
multitude of others at the period of the restoration of the Temple by the
Pharisees (who also instituted the set form of prayers), who are alone
responsible for their acceptance. (96) Those, therefore, who would
demonstrate the authority of Holy Scripture, are bound to show the authority
of each separate book; it is not enough to prove the Divine origin of a
single book in order to infer the Divine origin of the rest. (97) In that
case we should have to assume that the council of Pharisees was, in its
choice of books, infallible, and this could never be proved. (98) I am led
to assert that the Pharisees alone selected the books of the Old Testament,
and inserted them in the canon, from the fact that in Daniel ii. is
proclaimed the doctrine of the Resurrection, which the Sadducees denied;
and, furthermore, the Pharisees plainly assert in the Talmud that they so
selected them. (99) For in the treatise of Sabbathus, chapter ii., folio 30,
page 2, it is written: R. Jehuda, surnamed Rabbi, reports that the experts
wished to conceal the book of Ecclesiastes because they found therein words
opposed to the law (that is, to the book of the law of Moses). (100) Why did
they not hide it? (101) Because it begins in accordance with the law, and
ends according to the law;" and a little further on we read: "They sought
also to conceal the book of Proverbs." (102) And in the first chapter of the
same treatise, fol. 13, page 2: "Verily, name one man for good, even he who
was called Neghunja, the son of Hezekiah: for, save for him, the book of
Ezekiel would been concealed, because it agreed not with the words of the

(103) It is thus abundantly clear that men expert in the law summoned a
council to decide which books should be received into the canon, and which
excluded. (104) If any man, therefore, wishes to be certified as to the
authority of all the books, let him call a fresh council, and ask every
member his reasons.

(105) The time has now come for examining in the same manner the books in
the New Testament; but as I learn that the task has been already performed
by men highly skilled in science and languages, and as I do not myself
possess a knowledge of Greek sufficiently exact for the task; lastly, as we
have lost the originals of those books which were written in Hebrew, I
prefer to decline the undertaking. (106) However, I will touch on those
points which have most bearing on my subject in the following chapter.

End of Part 2.

Part 2 - Chapters VI to X


Endnote 6. (1) We doubt of the existence of God, and consequently of
all else, so long as we have no clear and distinct idea of God, but only a
confused one. (2) For as he who knows not rightly the nature of a triangle,
knows not that its three angles are equal to two right angles, so he who
conceives the Divine nature confusedly, does not see that it pertains to the
nature of God to exist. (3) Now, to conceive the nature of God clearly and
distinctly, it is necessary to pay attention to a certain number of very
simple notions, called general notions, and by their help to associate the
conceptions which we form of the attributes of the Divine nature. (4) It
then, for the first time, becomes clear to us, that God exists necessarily,
that He is omnipresent, and that all our conceptions involve in themselves
the nature of God and are conceived through it. (5) Lastly, we see that all
our adequate ideas are true. (6) Compare on this point the prologomena to
book, "Principles of Descartes's philosophy set forth geometrically."


Endnote 7. (1) "It is impossible to find a method which would enable us to
gain a certain knowledge of all the statements in Scripture." (2) I mean
impossible for us who have not the habitual use of the language, and have
lost the precise meaning of its phraseology.

Endnote 8. (1) "Not in things whereof the understanding can gain a clear and
distinct idea, and which are conceivable through themselves." (2) By things
conceivable I mean not only those which are rigidly proved, but also those
whereof we are morally certain, and are wont to hear without wonder, though
they are incapable of proof. (3) Everyone can see the truth of Euclid's
propositions before they are proved. (4) So also the histories of things
both future and past which do not surpass human credence, laws,
institutions, manners, I call conceivable and clear, though they cannot be
proved mathematically. (5) But hieroglyphics and histories which seem to
pass the bounds of belief I call inconceivable; yet even among these last
there are many which our method enables us to investigate, and to discover
the meaning of their narrator.


Endnote 9. (1) "Mount Moriah is called the mount of God." (2) That is by the
historian, not by Abraham, for he says that the place now called "In the
mount of the Lord it shall be revealed," was called by Abraham, "the Lord
shall provide."

Endnote 10. (1) "Before that territory [Idumoea] was conquered by David."
(2) From this time to the reign of Jehoram when they again separated from
the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings viii:20), the Idumaeans had no king, princes
appointed by the Jews supplied the place of kings (1 Kings xxii:48), in fact
the prince of Idumaea is called a king (2 Kings iii:9).

(3) It may be doubted whether the last of the Idumaean kings had begun to
reign before the accession of Saul, or whether Scripture in this chapter of
Genesis wished to enumerate only such kings as were independent. (4) It is
evidently mere trifling to wish to enrol among Hebrew kings the name of
Moses, who set up a dominion entirely different from a monarchy.


Endnote 11. (1) "With few exceptions." (2) One of these exceptions is found
in 2 Kings xviii:20, where we read, "Thou sayest (but they are but vain
words), "the second person being used. (3) In Isaiah xxxvi:5, we read "I
say (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war," and
in the twenty-second verse of the chapter in Kings it is written, "But if ye
say," the plural number being used, whereas Isaiah gives the singular. (4)
The text in Isaiah does not contain the words found in 2 Kings xxxii:32. (5)
Thus there are several cases of various readings where it is impossible to
distinguish the best.

Endnote 12. (1) "The expressions in the two passages are so varied." (2) For
instance we read in 2 Sam. vii:6, "But I have walked in a tent and in a
tabernacle." (3) Whereas in 1 Chron. xvii:5, "but have gone from tent to
tent and from one tabernacle to another." (4) In 2 Sam. vii:10, we read, "to
afflict them,"whereas in 1 Chron. vii:9, we find a different expression. (5)
I could point out other differences still greater, but a single reading of
the chapters in question will suffice to make them manifest to all who are
neither blind nor devoid of sense.

Endnote 13. (1) "This time cannot refer to what immediately precedes." (2)
It is plain from the context that this passage must allude to the time when
Joseph was sold by his brethren. (3) But this is not all. (4) We may draw
the same conclusion from the age of Judah, who was than twenty-two years old
at most, taking as basis of calculation his own history just narrated. (5)
It follows, indeed, from the last verse of Gen. xxx., that Judah was born in
the tenth of the years of Jacob's servitude to Laban, and Joseph in the
fourteenth. (6) Now, as we know that Joseph was seventeen years old when
sold by his brethren, Judah was then not more than twenty-one. (7) Hence,
those writers who assert that Judah's long absence from his father's
house took place before Joseph was sold, only seek to delude themselves and
to call in question the Scriptural authority which they are anxious to

Endnote 14. (1) "Dinah was scarcely seven years old when she was violated by
Schechem." (2) The opinion held by some that Jacob wandered about eight or
ten years between Mesopotamia and Bethel, savours of the ridiculous; if
respect for Aben Ezra, allows me to say so. (3) For it is clear that Jacob
had two reasons for haste: first, the desire to see his old parents;
secondly, and chiefly to perform, the vow made when he fled from his brother
(Gen. xxviii:10 and xxxi:13, and xxxv:1). (4) We read (Gen. xxxi:3), that
God had commanded him to fulfill his vow, and promised him help for
returning to his country. (5) If these considerations seem conjectures
rather than reasons, I will waive the point and admit that Jacob, more
unfortunate than Ulysses, spent eight or ten years or even longer, in this
short journey. (6) At any rate it cannot be denied that Benjamin was born in
the last year of this wandering, that is by the reckoning of the objectors,
when Joseph was sixteen or seventeen years old, for Jacob left Laban seven
years after Joseph's birth. (7) Now from the seventeenth year of Joseph's
age till the patriarch went into Egypt, not more than twenty-two years
elapsed, as we have shown in this chapter. (8) Consequently Benjamin, at the
time of the journey to Egypt, was twenty-three or twenty- four at the most.
(9) He would therefore have been a grandfather in the flower of his age
(Gen. xlvi:21, cf. Numb. xxvi:38, 40, and 1 Chron. viii;1), for it is
certain that Bela, Benjamin's eldest son, had at that time, two sons, Addai
nd Naa-man. (10) This is just as absurd as the statement that Dinah was
violated at the age of seven, not to mention other impossibilities
which would result from the truth of the narrative. (11) Thus we see that
unskillful endeavours to solve difficulties, only raise fresh ones, and make
confusion worse confounded.

Endnote 15. (1) "Othniel, son of Kenag, was judge for forty years." (2)
Rabbi Levi Ben Gerson and others believe that these forty years which the
Bible says were passed in freedom, should be counted from the death of
Joshua, and consequently include the eight years during which the people
were subject to Kushan Rishathaim, while the following eighteen years
must be added on to the eighty years of Ehud's and Shamgar's judgeships. (3)
In this case it would be necessary to reckon the other years of subjection
among those said by the Bible to have been passed in freedom. (4) But the
Bible expressly notes the number of years of subjection, and the number of
years of freedom, and further declares (Judges ii:18) that the
Hebrew state was prosperous during the whole time of the judges. (5)
Therefore it is evident that Levi Ben Gerson (certainly a very learned man),
and those who follow him, correct rather than interpret the Scriptures.

(6) The same fault is committed by those who assert, that Scripture, by this
general calculation of years, only intended to mark the period of the
regular administration of the Hebrew state, leaving out the years of anarchy
and subjection as periods of misfortune and interregnum. (7) Scripture
certainly passes over in silence periods of anarchy, but does not, as they
dream, refuse to reckon them or wipe them out of the country's annals. (8)
It is clear that Ezra, in 1 Kings vi., wished to reckon absolutely all the
years since the flight from Egypt. (9) This is so plain, that no one versed
in the Scriptures can doubt it. (10) For, without going back to the
precise words of the text, we may see that the genealogy of David given at
the end of the book of Ruth, and I Chron. ii., scarcely accounts for so
great a number of years. (11) For Nahshon, who was prince of the tribe of
Judah (Numb. vii;11), two years after the Exodus, died in the desert, and
his son Salmon passed the Jordan with Joshua. (12) Now this Salmon,
according to the genealogy, was David's great-grandfather. (13) Deducting,
then, from the total of 480 years, four years for Solomon's reign, seventy
for David's life, and forty for the time passed in the desert, we find that
David was born 366 years after the passage of the Jordan. (14) Hence we
must believe that David's father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-
great-grandfather begat children when they were ninety years old.

Endnote 16. (1) "Samson was judge for twenty years." (2) Samson was born
after the Hebrews had fallen under the dominion of the Philistines.

Endnote 17. (1) Otherwise, they rather correct than explain Scripture.

Endnote 18. (1) "Kirjath-jearim." Kirjath-jearim is also called Baale of
Judah. (2) Hence Kimchi and others think that the words Baale Judah, which I
have translated "the people of Judah," are the name of a town. (3) But this
is not so, for the word Baale is in the plural. (4) Moreover, comparing this
text in Samuel with I Chron. Xiii:5, we find that David did not rise up
and go forth out of Baale, but that he went thither. (5) If the author of
the book of Samuel had meant to name the place whence David took the ark, he
would, if he spoke Hebrew correctly, have said, "David rose up, and set
forth from Baale Judah, and took the ark from thence."


Endnote 19. (1) "After the restoration of the Temple by Judas Maccaboeus."
(2) This conjecture, if such it be, is founded on the genealogy of King
Jeconiah, given in 1 Chron. iii., which finishes at the sons of Elioenai,
the thirteenth in direct descent from him: whereon we must observe that
Jeconiah, before his captivity, had no children; but it is probable that he
had two while he was in prison, if we may draw any inference from the names
he gave them. (3) As to his grandchildren, it is evident that they were born
after his deliverance, if the names be any guide, for his grandson, Pedaiah
(a name meaning God hath delivered me), who, according to this chapter, was
the father of Zerubbabel, was born in the thirty-seventh or thirty-eighth
year of Jeconiah's life, that is thirty-three years before the restoration
of liberty to the Jews by Cyrus. (4) Therefore Zerubbabel, to whom Cyrus
gave the principality of Judaea, was thirteen or fourteen years old. (5) But
we need not carry the inquiry so far: we need only read attentively
the chapter of 1 Chron., already quoted, where (v. 17, sqq.) mention is made
of all the posterity of Jeconiah, and compare it with the Septuagint version
to see clearly that these books were not published, till after Maccabaeus
had restored the Temple, the sceptre no longer belonging to the house of

Endnote 20. (1) "Zedekiah should be taken to Babylon." (2) No one could then
have suspected that the prophecy of Ezekiel contradicted that of Jeremiah,
but the suspicion occurs to everyone who reads the narrative of Josephus.
(3) The event proved that both prophets were in the right.

Endnote 21. (1) "And who wrote Nehemiah." (2) That the greater part of the
book of Nehemiah was taken from the work composed by the prophet Nehemiah
himself, follows from the testimony of its author. (See chap. i.). (3) But
it is obvious that the whole of the passage contained between chap. viii.
and chap. xii. verse 26, together with the two last verses of chap. xii.,
which form a sort of parenthesis to Nehemiah's words, were added by the
historian himself, who outlived Nehemiah.

Endnote 22. (1) "I suppose no one thinks" that Ezra was the uncle of the
first high priest , named Joshua (see Ezra vii., and 1 Chron. vi:14), and
went to Jerusalem from Babylon with Zerubbabel (see Nehemiah xii:1). (2) But
it appears that when he saw, that the Jews were in a state of anarchy, he
returned to Babylon, as also did others (Nehem. i;2), and remained there
till the reign of Artaxerxes, when his requests were granted and he went a
second tim to Jerusalem. (3) Nehemiah also went to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel
in the time of Cyrus (Ezra ii:2 and 63, cf. x:9, and Nehemiah x:1). (4) The
version given of the Hebrew word, translated "ambassador," is not supported
by any authority, while it is certain that fresh names were given to those
Jews who frequented the court. (5) Thus Daniel was named Balteshazzar,
and Zerubbabel Sheshbazzar (Dan. i:7). (6) Nehemiah was called Atirsata,
while in virtue of his office he was styled governor, or president.
(Nehem. v. 24, xii:26.)

Endnote 23. (1) "Before the time of the Maccabees there was no canon of
sacred books." (2) The synagogue styled "the great" did not begin before the
subjugation of Asia by the Macedonians. (3) The contention of Maimonides,
Rabbi Abraham, Ben-David, and others, that the presidents of this synagogue
were Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, &c., is a pure fiction,
resting only on rabbinical tradition. (4) Indeed they assert that the
dominion of the Persians only lasted thirty-four years, and this is their
chief reason for maintaining that the decrees of the "great synagogue," or
synod (rejected by the Sadducees, but accepted by the Pharisees) were
ratified by the prophets, who received them from former prophets, and so in
direct succession from Moses, who received them from God Himself. (5) Such
is the doctrine which the Pharisees maintain with their wonted obstinacy.
(6) Enlightened persons, however, who know the reasons for the convoking of
councils, or synods, and are no strangers to the differences between
Pharisees and Sadducees, can easily divine the causes which led to the
assembling of this great synagogue. (7) It is very certain that no prophet
was there present, and that the decrees of the Pharisees, which they style
their traditions, derive all their authority from it.

End of Endnotes to Part II. - Chapters VI to X.

End of Part II of

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