Benedictus de Spinoza

Elwes's Lengthier Biography - Wolf's Lengthier Biography - Britannica
   IntroductionPurpose - Durant's Tribute - Graetz's Censure 
Ezra:EJ - Jesus:EJ - Jesus:EB - Spinoza:EJ - Graetz:EJ - Wolfson:EJ - Einstein:EJ 
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From Will Durant's "Story of Philosophy"; Washington Square Press; 18th Printing, 1965;         Page 370—Herbert Spencer's words that I can't help, but think they apply to Spinoza.

A  Dutch Jewish rationalist, Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza was born               Spinozism
         Bk.XX:422.                                                               Bk.XX:2, 3.
in  Amsterdam  into  a  distinguished Jewish family, exiled from Spain            Introduction
                            {condemned }
and  living  in  the  relative religious freedom of  the Netherlands.  He

attended  the Jewish school,  and  became  learned  in  the  work  of

Jewish and Arabic theologians. However, contact with dissident Chris-

tian  movements  and  with  the scientific and philosophical thought of

Descartes  led  Spinoza to distance himself from orthodox life. In 1656

he  was  deemed  a  heretic,  cast out  of  the synagogue, and cursed

with all the curses of the firmament.

For a short time Spinoza was exiled from Amsterdam, but he returned

and  began  his  life again, supporting himself by grinding lenses and

teaching.  In  1660  he  moved to Voorburg and then on to the Hague,

where  he  lived with great frugality on a small pension.  In 1672 Spin-

oza  undertook  a  small  diplomatic mission  to  the  invading French

army,  but on his return he was under suspicion as a spy and narrow-

ly  escaped  being killed by the mob. Spinoza lived out his remaining

years in the same frugal state, writing and corresponding. He died of

phthisis,  possibly brought  on  by his trade as a lens-grinder.  There

remain  numerous  testimonies  to  his simplicity,  virtue,  charm, and


Works.    Elwes' Description.

After  the  exile  from  Amsterdam he  returned  and  wrote  the "Short

Treaties on  God,  Man,  and  his  Well  Being".   In 1663  the Renati

Descartes  Principorium  Philosophiae (The Principles of Descartes'

Philosophy),   a  geometrically   structured   exposition   of  the  philo-

sophical  system  of  Descartes,  was  published.   In  1673  his  work

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, whose advocacy for tolerance, had it
condemned by the Reformed Church.  Spinoza's final publication was

the Tractatus de Intellectus Emandatione,  published  in  the  year  of

his death.  He  also wrote The Ethics, which he chose not to publish,

knowing  it  would  only  generate  controversy  and  rancour.

 {WikipediA}                             {WikipediA}
Durant's Tribute to Spinoza.
From Will and Ariel Durant's "The Story of Civilization: Part VIII",
Chapter XXII - Spinoza.
ISBN: 0671012150, 1963, Pages 653-657. 
{I have changed Durant's spelling of God in accordance with SpinScript:Note 4.}

page 653
                                          IX. THE CHAIN OF INFLUENCE

[1]  In the great chain of ideas that binds the history of philosophy into one noble groping of baffled human thought, we can see Spinoza's system forming in twenty centuries behind him, and sharing in shaping the modern world. First, of course, he was a Jew. Excommunicated though he was, he could not shed that intensive heritage, nor forget his years of poring over the {Hebrew Bible,} Old Testament, and the Talmud and the Jewish philosophers. Recall again the heresies that must have startled his attention in Ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Hasdai Crescas, Levi ben Gerson, and Uriel da Costa. His training in the Talmud must have helped to sharpen that logical sense which made the Ethics a classic temple of reason. "Some begin" their philosophy "from created things," he said, "and some from the human mind. I begin from G-D {One1D6}." (Note 179 on page 753: Bevan and Singer, Legacy of Isreal, 451.) That was the Jewish way. 

[2]  From the philosophers traditionally most admired he took little—though in his distinction between the world of passing things and the divine world of eternal laws we may find another form of Plato's division between individual entities and their archetypes in the mind of G-D. Spinoza's analysis of the virtues has been traced to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics?  (180-Bk.XIV:2:233f). But page 654 "the authority of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates," he told a friend, "has not much weight with me. (181-L60(56):385) Like Bacon and Hobbes, he preferred Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius. His ethical ideal may echo the Stoics; we hear in it some tones of Marcus Aurelius; but it was fully consistent with Epicurus {the philosophical system of Epicurus, holding that the world is a series of fortuitous combinations of atoms and that the highest good is pleasure, interpreted as freedom from disturbance or painperpetuation; peace-of-mind}. 

From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed September 24, 2003]. 
EPICUREANISM, a philosophy of adjustment to the social changes after Alexander the Great (336–323), founded by Epicurus, 342/1–270 B.C.E., "the most revered and the most reviled of all founders of thought in the Greco-Roman world" (De Witt). Recent scholarship sees in it a "bridge" to certain rabbinic and Christian moods. Epicurus taught freedom from fear and desire through knowledge as the natural and pleasurable {tranquil} life. He endorsed religious observance but denied earthly involvement of the perfect gods and with it providence, presage, punishment, and penitential prayer. The transformation of Epicureanism into a competitive sect celebrating Epicurus as "savior" increased the already existing opposition to it. Rhetorical literature falsely accused Epicurus of materialistic hedonism.

[3]  He owed more to the Scholastic philosophers than he realized,
for they came to him through the medium of Descartes. They too, like Thomas Aquinas in the great Summa, had attempted a geometrical exposition of philosophy. They gave him such terms as substantia, natura naturans, attributum, essentia, summum bonum, and many more. Their identification of existence and essence in G-D became his identification of existence and essence in substance. He extended to man their merger of intellect and will in G-D. 

[4]  Perhaps (as Bayle thought) Spinoza read Bruno. He accepted Giordano's distinction between natura naturans and natura naturata; he may have taken term and idea from Bruno's conato de conservarsi; (182-Jewish Encyclopedia,XI, 517) he may have found in the Italian the unity of body and mind, of matter and spirit, of world and G-D, and the conception of the highest knowledge as that which sees all things in G-D—though the German mystics must have spread that view even into commercial Amsterdam. 

[5]  More immediately, Descartes inspired him with philosophical ideals, and repelled him with theological platitudes. He was inspired by Descartes' ambition to make philosophy march with Euclid in form and clarity. He probably followed Descartes in drawing up rules to guide his life and work. He adopted too readily Descartes' notion that an idea must be true if it is "clear and distinct. "He accepted and universalized the Cartesian view of the world as a mechanism of cause and effect reaching from some primeval vortex right up to the Pineal Gland. He acknowledged his indebtedness to Descartes' analysis of the passions. (183-3Pfc:6, 5Pfc:9.)

[6]  The Leviathan {WikipediA} of Hobbes, in Latin translation, obviously evoked much welcome in Spinoza's thought. Here the conception of mechanism was worked out without mercy or fear. The mind, which in Descartes was distinct from the body and was endowed with freedom and immortality, became, in Hobbes and Spinoza, subject to universal law, and capable of only an impersonal immortality or none at all. Spinoza found in The Leviathan an acceptable analysis of sensation, perception, memory, and idea, and an unsentimental analysis of human nature. From the common starting point of a "state of nature" and a "social compact" the two thinkers came to contrary conclusions: Hobbes, from his royalist circles, to monarchy; Spinoza, from his Dutch patriotism, to democracy. Perhaps it was through Hobbes that the gentle Jew was led to Machiavelli; he refers to him as "that most acute Florentine," and again as "that most ingenious..., foreseeing page 655 man." (184-TP3(10:1:2); TP1(5:7:1) But he escaped the confusion of right with might, recognizing that this is forgivable only among individuals in the "state of nature, "and among states before the establishment of effective international law.

[7]  All these influences were tempered and molded by Spinoza into a structure of thought awe- inspiring in its apparent logic, harmony, and unity. There were cracks in the temple, as friends and enemies pointed out: Oldenburg ably criticized the opening axioms and propositions of the Ethics, (185) and Uberweg subjected them to a Germanically meticulous analysis. (186- pg 753) The logic was brilliant, but perilously deductive; though based upon personal experience, it was an artistry of thought resting upon internal consistency rather than objective fact. Spinoza's trust in his reasoning (though what other guide could he have?) was his sole immodesty. He expressed his confidence that man can understand G-D, or essential reality and universal law; he repeatedly avowed his conviction that he had proved his doctrines beyond all question or obscurity; and sometimes he spoke with an assurance unbecoming in a spray of foam analyzing the sea. What if all logic is an intellectual convenience, a heuristic {RH—serving to indicate or point out} tool of the seeking mind, rather than the structure of the world? So the inescapable logic of determinism reduces consciousness (as Huxley confessed) to an epiphenomenon {RH—any secondary phenomenon} —an apparently superfluous appendage of psychophysical processes which, by the mechanics of cause and effect, would go on just as well without it; and yet nothing seems more real, nothing more impressive, than consciousness. After logic has had its say, the mystery, tam grande secretum, remains.

[8]  These difficulties may have shared in the unpopularity of Spinoza's philosophy in the first century after his death; but resentment was more violently directed against his critique of the Bible, prophecies, and miracles, and his conception of G-D as lovable but impersonal and deaf. The Jews thought of their son as a traitor to his people; the Christians cursed him as a very Satan among philosophers, an Antichrist who sought to rob the world of all meaning, mercy, and hope. Even the heretics condemned him. Bayle was repelled by Spinoza's view that all things and all men are modes of the one and only substance, cause, or G-D; then, said Bayle, G-D is the real agent of all actions, the real cause of all evil, all crimes and wars; and when a Turk slays a Hungarian it is G-D slaying Himself; this, Bayle protested (forgetting the subjectivity of evil) was a "most absurd and monstrous hypothesis" (187- pg 753) Leibniz was for a decade (1676-86) strongly influenced by Spinoza. The doctrine of monads {Philos. an indivisible metaphysical entity, esp. one having an autonomous life} as centers of psychic force may owe something to omnia quodammodo animata. At one time Leibniz declared that only one feature of Spinoza's philosophy offended him—the rejection of final causes, or providential design, in the cosmic process. (188 - pg 753) When the outcry against Spinoza's "atheism" became universal, Leibniz joined in it as part of his own conatus sese preservancli.

page 656
[9]  Spinoza had a modest, almost a concealed, share in generating the French Enlightenment. The leaders of that combustion used Spinoza's Biblical criticism as a weapon in their war against the Church, and they admired his determinism, his naturalistic ethic, his rejection of design in nature. But they were baffled by the religious terminology and apparent mysticism of the Ethics. We can imagine the reaction of Voltaire or Diderot, of Helvtious or d'Holbach, to such statements as "The mental intellectual love towards G-D is the very love of G-D with which G-D loves himself." (189) 


[10]  The German spirit was more responsive to this side of Spinoza's thought. According to a conversation (1780) reported by Friedrich Jacobi, Lessing not only confessed that he had been a Spinozist through all his mature life, but affirmed that "there is no other philosophy than Spinoza's." (190 - pg 573) It was precisely the pantheistic identification of Nature and G-D that thrilled the Germany of the romantic movement after the Aufklärung under Frederick the Great had run its course. Jacobi, champion of the new Gefühlsphilosophie, was among the first defenders of Spinoza (1785); it was another German romantic, Novalis, who called Spinoza "der Gottbetrunkene Mensch"; Herder thought that he had found in the Ethics the reconciliation of religion and philosophy; and Schleiermacher, the liberal theologian, wrote of "the holy and excommunicated Spinoza." (191 - pg 753) The young Goethe was "converted" (he tells us) at his first reading of the Ethics; henceforth Spinozism pervaded his (nonsexual) poetry and prose; it was partly by breathing the calm air of the Ethics that he grew out of the wild romanticism of Götz von Berlichingen and Die Leiden des jungen Werthers to the Olympian poise of his later life. Kant interrupted this stream of influence for a while; but Hegel professed that "to be a philosopher one must first be a Spinozist"; and he rephrased Spinoza's G-D as "Absolute Reason." Probably something of Spinoza's conatus sese preservandi entered into Schopenhauer's "will to live" and Nietzsche's "will to power." 

[11]  England for a century knew Spinoza chiefly through hearsay, and denounced him as a distant and terrible ogre. Stillingfleet (1677) referred to him vaguely as "a late author [who] I hear is mightily in vogue among many who cry up anything on the atheistical side." A Scottish professor, George Sinclair (1685), wrote of "a monstrous rabble of men who, following the Hobbesian and Spinosian principle, slight religion and undervalue the Scripture." Sir John Evelyn (1690?) spoke of the Tractatus theologico-politicus as "that infamous book," a "wretched obstacle to the searchers of holy truth." Berkeley (1732), while ranking Spinoza among "weak and wicked writers, "thought him "the great leader of our modern infidels." (192 - pg 753)  As late as 1739 the agnostic Hume shuddered cautiously at the "hideous hypothesis" of "that famous atheist," the "universally infamous Spinoza." (193 - pg 753) Not till the romantic movement at the turn of the eighteenth page 657 into the nineteenth century did Spinoza really reach the English mind. Then he, more than any other philosopher, inspired the youthful metaphysics of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Byron. Shelley quoted the Tractatus theologico-politicus in the original notes to Queen Mab, and began a translation of it, for which Byron pledged a preface; a fragment of this version came into the hands of an English critic, who, taking it for a work by Shelley himself,  called it a "schoolboy speculation.., too crude for publication entire." George Eliot translated the Ethics with virile resolution, and James Froude (194 - pg 753) and Matthew Arnold (195 - pg 753) acknowledged the influence of Spinoza on their mental development. Of all the intellectual products of man, religion and philosophy seem to endure the longest. Pericles is famous because he lived in the days of Socrates.

[12]  We love Spinoza especially among the philosophers because he was also a saint, because he lived, as well as wrote, philosophy. The virtues praised by the great religions were honored and embodied in the outcast who could find a home in none of the religions, since none would let him conceive G-D in terms that science could accept. Looking back upon that dedicated life and concentrated thought, we feel in them an element of nobility that encourages us to think well of mankind. Let us admit half of the terrible picture that Swift drew of humanity; let us agree that in every generation of man's history, and almost everywhere, we find superstition, hypocrisy, corruption, cruelty, crime, and war: in the balance against them we place the long roster of poets, composers, artists, scientists, philosophers, and saints. That same species upon which poor Swift revenged the frustrations of his flesh wrote the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Bach and Handel, the odes of Keats, the Republic of Plato, the Principia of Newton, and the Ethics of Spinoza; it built the Parthenon and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; it conceived and cherished, even if it crucified, Christ. Man did all this; let him never despair.


Col:Condemnation—From Pollock's Bk.XII:444, APPENDIX B.

The following  is  the ^ text  of  the ordinance condemning the Tractatus
Theologico-Politicus.  That  of  June 25, 1678, condemning  the Opera           Image of Title Page 
Posthuma,  is to be found at p. 525 of the same book;  but inasmuch as
it is also reprinted in Van der Linde's 'Bibliografie,' no. 24, it is not given
here.  I have  not  thought  it  needful to add a translation.  { I am indebted
to Nynke Leistra for the translation which follows the Dutch. }

Groot Placaet Boeck (in's Graven Hage, I683) 3de Deel, p. 523.

Placaet van den Hove van Hollandt tegen de Sociniaensche Boecken
Leviathan en andere. In date den negenthienden July, 1674.

Wilhem Hendrick, by dergratien Godes Prince van Orangeen de Nassau,
Grave  van  Catzenellebogen,  Vianden, Diest, Lingen, Moeurs, Buyren,
Leerdam,   &c. ......  Midtsgaders  den  Praesident  ende  Raeden  over
Hollandt  ende  West-Vrieslandt:   Alsoo  Wy  in  ervaringe  komen,  dat
t'zedert eenigen tijdt herwaerts verscheyde Sociniaensche ende andere
schadelijcke  Boecken,  met  den  Druck  zijn  gemeen  gemaeckt, ende
noch  dagelijcx  werden  gedivulgeert  ende  verkocht,  als  daer zijn de
Boecken genaemt de Leviathan, Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, quos
unitarios  vocant,  Philosophia  Sacrae  Scripturae interpres: als mede
Tractatus Theologico Politicus,  ende  dat Wy naer examinatie van den
inhouden  van  dien  bevinden,  niet alleen dat de selve renverseren de
Leere   van   de   ware   Christelijcke  Gereformeerde  Religie,  nemaer
oock  overvloeyen  van alle lasteringen tegens Godt, ende syne Eygen-
schappen,  ende  des  selfs  aenbiddelijcke Drie Eenigheydt, tegens de
Godtheydt  Jesu Christi,  ende syne Ware voldoeninge; midtsgaders de
fondamentele  Hooft-Poincten  van  de  voorschreve Ware Christelijcke
Religie,   ende   in   effecte   d'authoriteyt   van   de   Heylige  Schrifture,
t'eenemael  soo  veel  in  haer  is  in vilipendie, en de swacke ende niet
wel  gefondeerde  gemoederen  in twijfelinge trachten te brengen, alles
directelijck  jegens  iterative  Resolutien  ende Placaten van den Lande
daer  jegens  ge-emaneert.   Soo  ist,  Dat  wy  tot  voorkominge van dit
schadelijck  Vergift,  ende  om  soo  reel  mogelijck te beletten, dat daer
door  niemant  en moge werden misleyt, hebben geoordeelt van Onsen
plicht  de  voorsz.   Boecken te verklaren soodanigh als voorsz is, ende
te  decrieren  voor Gods-lasterlijcke en Ziel-verdeffelijcke Boecken, vol
van   ongefondeerde   en   dangereuse   stellingen   en  grouwelen,  tot
naedeel   van   de   Ware   Religie  ende  Kerchendienst.   Verbiedende
dien-volgende  als noch by desen allen ende een yegelijcken, de selve
of dier-gelijcke te Drucken, divulgeeren ofte verkoopen, op Auctien ofte
andersints,  op  peyne by de Placaten van den Lande, ende specialijck
dat  van  den  negenthienden  September 1653,  daer toe ghestatueert:
Lastende een yeder die dit aengaet, hem daer na te reguleren, endedat
desen sal worden gepubliceert en alomme geaffigeert, daer het behoort,
ende  in  gelijcke  saecken  te  geschieden  gebruyckelijck is.  Gegeven
onde het Zegel van Justicie hier onder opgedruckt, op den negenthien-
den  Julij, 1674.   Onder stondt, In kennisse van My.  Was gheteeckent,                                                                         Ad. Pots.           Bk.XIB:1981.

Translation  of  Dutch text  of the ordinance condemning  the Tractatus

Translated by Nynke Leistra <>
                          Organization: Short Title Catalogue Netherlands
to whom I extend my deepest appreciation. 

Groot  Placaet  Boeck [containing the proclamations... of the ... States
General... and of the States of Holland and West-Friesland; and of the
... States of Zeeland]. Part 3. (in's Gravenhage, J. Scheltus, 1683).  

p. 523 ff.
Edict  of  the Hof  of  Holland  against  the  Socinian  Books,  Leviathan
and  others.  Dated 19th July, 1674.  Willem Hendrik,  by  the  grace of
God    Prince  of  Orange  and  Nassau,   Count  of   Catzenellenbogen,
Vianden,    Diest,   Lingen,   Moers,  Buren,  Leerdam,  etc.....  And  the
President  and   Councils   of   Holland   and   West-Friesland:   Having
learned  that  for  some  time several Socinian and other harmful books
have been published by way of printing and are still daily being spread
and   sold,   as   there  are  the  books  entitled Leviathan,  Bibliotheca
Fratrum   Polonorum,    quos   unitarios   vocant,   Philosophia   Sacrae
Scripturae  interpres,   and  also  Tractatus  Theologico-Politicus,  and
finding,  after  examination  of  the  contents  of these that they not only
deny  the  Doctrine  of  the  true  Christian  Reformed Religion, but also
abound with all calumnies against God and his Qualities and his Trinity
worthy  of  admiration,   against  the   Divinity  of  Jesus  Christ  and  his
Atonement,  and  also  [against]  the  fundamental  main  tenets  of  the
said  True  Christian  Religion,  and  that  they, in effect, try as much as
they  can  to  render  the  authority  of  the  Scriptures contemptible and
attempt   to  confuse  weak  and  unstable  minds all  directly  against
repeatedly  issued  Resolutions  and  Edicts  of the Country [prohibiting
this],  Thus,  in  order  to  restrain  this  harmful  poison  and  in order to
prevent  as  much  as  possible  that  anybody  shall  be  misled  by this,
we  have  judged  it  our  duty  to  declare  the  said  books  to be as we
deemed   aforesaid,   and  to  condemn  them  as  blasphemous  books,
pernicious  to  the soul,  full  of  unfounded and dangerous propositions
and  abominations, detrimental to the True Religion and divine Worship.
Therefore   we  herewith  as  yet  prohibit  each  and everyone  to  print,
to spread  or  to  sell  these  or  similar  books on auctions or otherwise,
under  penalty  of  the  Edicts  of  the  Country  and  especially  that  of
September 19th 1653  which  has  been  issued  to  this end.  We order
anyone  whom  it  may concern, to comply with this [edict], and that this
[edict]  will  be published and posted up everywhere where it should be
and  is  customary  in  similar  matters.   Given  under  the  Seal  of  [the]
Judiciary  stamped  below  on  July 19th 1674.   Beneath  [that]  it  said:
In my presence.  Signed: Ad. Pots.     Bk.XIB:1981.

From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed August 28, 2003]. 
                                   Search 'Ezra' then

Biblical Account of Ezra and Nehemiah     {Ezra's importance, Spinoza explains why.}    

       {My reasons for including this entry on the Restoration is as follows: 
              1. Ezra is a symbol for those that created the Hebrew Bible
                  the Book that has kept the Jewish people alive.
              2. The story of this Restoration is a forerunner that shows the
                  travails of the creation of the modern State of Israel.}

1. The Restoration
[1:1]  The destruction of the Temple constituted a double crisis. Not only was the people cast off the land but the Divine Presence departed from Jerusalem (Ezek. 10:19; 11:23). Once the city was bereft of the God of Israel, its Canaanite origins came to the fore (Ezek. 16). The process of restoration (see Babylonian Exile) would be a lengthy one that would carry the people along the same route traversed by their ancestors who emerged from Egypt. Like the Exodus from Egypt, the one from Babylonia was depicted in miraculous terms. The Sinaitic theophany {a manifestation or appearance of God or a god to a person.} was paralleled by the reconstruction of the Temple, which restored the Divine Presence to Jerusalem (cf. Ezra 6:12; 7:15), while the revelation of the laws to Moses had its counterpart in the reading of the Torah and the legislative activity of Ezra. The sanctity of the newly occupied land could only be preserved if the Sabbath was observed, if each member of the nation cared for his brother, and if the men did not take wives from among the pagan peoples. The Restoration was depicted in the terms outlined above in Deutero-Isaiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. As the Lord revealed Himself by preparing a passage through the Red Sea, so would He reveal Himself by clearing a road through the desert separating Babylon from Jerusalem (Isa. 40:3ff.). Israel would be redeemed from its present as from its former bondage and gathered in from the four corners of the earth (Isa. 43:1ff.). As Israel took spoil from the Egyptians upon its earlier Exodus (Ex. 3:21–22; 11:2–3; 12:35–36), so would it now receive the tribute of all the nations (Isa. 60). The miraculous and munificent return described by the prophet is echoed in the historical books. The neighbors of the repatriates from Babylonia "strengthened their hands" with silver and gold vessels, cattle and goods of all sorts (Ezra 1:6). The Persian king Darius contributed toward the construction and sacrificial cult of the Temple (Ezra 5:8ff.) and this policy of support was continued by Artaxerxes I, who together with his seven advisers, also sent contributions (Ezra 7:15ff.). Though nothing is told of the journey of the repatriates who returned shortly after Cyrus' decree, the return of Ezra and his small band was carried out under divine guidance. In his memoirs Ezra writes "I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way; since we had told the king 'The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him'..." Fasting and prayer thus secured safe passage (Ezra 8:22ff.). Since the historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah are structured so as to base the account of the Restoration on the model of the early stages of Israel's nationhood there is no "complete" account of the history of the period. The source is silent on the 30 years of the reign of Darius after the dedication of the Temple (515–486). A single sentence states that "at the beginning of the reign" of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) i.e., in his accession year, an accusation was written against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem (Ezra 4:6). Egypt had rebelled against Persia on the eve of Darius's death and the rebellion was subdued by Xerxes. It had traditionally been the case that Judah could sustain her rebellion against an imperial power, be it Assyria (Isa. 30–31) or Babylon (Jer. 37:6ff.), only by reliance upon Egypt. Thus it may be that Judah was involved or suspected of being involved in the Egyptian rebellion. The historical source is silent for another period of almost 30 years. In the seventh year of Artaxerxes I (458) Ezra was officially authorized by the king to "investigate" the situation in Judah and in Jerusalem in accordance with the law of God which was in his possession. He was entitled to appoint judges for the Jews beyond the confines of Judah, that is throughout the satrapy {a province in ancient Persia.} of the Trans-Euphrates ("Beyond the River"). Jews ignorant of the divine law were to be instructed, while those who violated either that law or the law of the king were to be suitably punished whether by death, banishment, fine, or imprisonment (Ezra 7:25–26).

2.  Ezra
[2:1]  Who was this Ezra and why should Artaxerxes grant him such broad authority in the year 458? In a genealogically conscious era, Ezra's genealogy is one of the most elaborate. He is a priest who traces his line directly back to Aaron through the latter's son and grandson Phinehas son of Eleazar. His immediate ancestor is given as Seraiah whose name is identical with that of the chief priest slain by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah (2 Kings 25:18ff.). With the exception of two lacunae, the genealogy is identical with that in I Chronicles 5:29–40. As recorded in the Book of Ezra (7:1–5) it gives the appearance of schematic arrangement (seven names between Aaron and Azariah (absent in Chron.) and seven names between Azariah and Ezra (hypocoristic {endearing, as a pet name or diminutive.} of Azariah). While the genealogy is silent, perhaps deliberately so, about Ezra's relationship to the executed Seraiah's grandson, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, its schematic selectivity suggests divine determination: "For Ezra had set his mind on investigating the Torah of the Lord in order to teach effectively its statutes and judgments in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). The Hebrew term for "set" is identical with that used to describe the erection of the altar (Ezra 3:3), indicating that Ezra was fulfilling the second major task in the complete restoration of Israel. What were his qualifications for this undertaking? He was a "scribe skilled in the Torah of Moses given by the Lord God of Israel" (Ezra 7:6; cf. 7:11). In its Aramaic formulation his title was "scribe of the Law of the God of Heaven" (Ezra 7:12, 21). The scribe was not only one versed in writing (cf. Ps. 45:2), he was also learned, "a wise man" who transmitted his wisdom (cf. Jer. 8:8; Ahikar, in: Pritchard, Texts, 427). The divine law in which Ezra was proficient was "the Wisdom of his God in his possession" (Ezra 7:25). In their wisdom, scribes were also called upon to advise kings (cf. Ahikar) and fill other governmental posts so that scribe, "secretary," also appears as an official title (II Sam. 8:17, et al.; Ezra 4:8 et al., Neh. 13:13). Whether in his capacity as scribe Ezra held a post in the Persian government, as some scholars have maintained, is uncertain. 

[2:2]  Whatever his status in the Persian Empire, Ezra "the priest and scribe" (Ezra 7:11) claimed that divine favor was responsible for Artaxerxes' giving him everything he requested (Ezra 7:6). The historical reason for the fame Ezra enjoyed may have been the revolt which broke out in Egypt ca. 463/2. It was in the interest of the Persian king at just this juncture to strengthen his hold on the territory bordering on Egypt. The Jewish garrison at Elephantine in Egypt having remained loyal to Artaxerxes throughout the decade of rebellion in lower Egypt, the king must have felt that he could rely on the Jews in the Trans-Euphrates as well. Their loyalty would be assured if the internal law which they observed received the same absolute sanction as did imperial law (Persian data; cf. Esth. 1:19; 8:8; Dan. 6:9) and if the enforcement of both laws was entrusted to a respected Jewish personality such as Ezra. It should be mentioned that scholars are not in agreement as to the date of Ezra's mission, some preferring to see it in the reign of Artaxerxes, the second king of that name, who reigned from 404–359. The seventh year of his reign would accordingly have been 398, and Ezra's mission would likewise have coincided with a rebellion in Egypt. This later revolt included all of Egypt and the garrison at Elephantine acknowledged the ruling Egyptian king Amyrtaeus by June 19, 400. The motive for the privileges granted Ezra are thus the same whether the king is hypothesized as Artaxerxes II or Artaxerxes I. Were the king in fact Artaxerxes II Ezra would have followed Nehemiah, whose arrival in Jerusalem, because of a correlation with a date in the Elephantine papyrus (cf. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 30:18, 30 with Neh. 12:22–23) is fixed to 444 (cf. Neh. 2:1). Some scholars, rather than shifting Ezra to year seven of the reign of Artaxerxes II, maintain that the king was Artaxerxes I and emend the year date to 27, 32, (33), or 37, thus placing Ezra's arrival either in 438 (during Nehemiah's first mission), 432 (433) (after Nehemiah's first mission), or 428 (during Nehemiah's second mission). The arguments for the shifting of the king and the emendation of the date are numerous but most rest on specious considerations and dubious textual interpretation. The return under Ezra was a replica in miniature of that under Zerubbabel. Stress was laid on the unity of Israel. Ezra's caravan contained members of the major groups of society. Included were two priestly families, Hattush of the Davidic line and 12 lay families numbering together with Ezra, 1,500. Special efforts were taken to enlist Levites, of whom 38 were recruited, and Temple servants, who numbered 220 (Ezra 8:1–20). Concern for Temple cult and personnel played a primary role. Contributions of gold, silver, and vessels from the king and his advisers and from Jews remaining in Babylonia were duly recorded, carefully transported, and officially deposited in the Temple (Ezra 7:15–16; 8:24–34). All the Temple officials from priest to lowly servant were to be exempt from taxation by the Persian government (Ezra 7:24). Just as the Temple dedication was celebrated by the sacrifice of 12 he-goats as sin offerings, to atone for the whole house of Israel (Ezra 6:17), so the arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem was marked by the sacrifice of 12 bulls as burnt offerings and 12 he-goats as sin offerings (Ezra 8:35–36). The numbers of the other sacrifices were typological multiples—96 rams, a multiple of 12 (cf. Num. 7:87–88), and 77 lambs, a multiple of seven, the number offered on all the festivals, the New Moon, the New Year, and the Day of Atonement (Num. 28–29).


[3:1]  Ezra set out from Babylon on the first of Nisan (Ezra 7:9), departed from a place called Ahava on the 12th of Nisan (Ezra 8:31), and arrived in Jerusalem on the first of Av some five months later (Ezra 7:8). On the 20th of Kislev, in the middle of the winter and in pouring rain, Ezra convened an assembly in Jerusalem (Ezra 10:9ff.) with the express purpose of dissolving the many mixed marriages, prevalent in all levels of society, which were called to his attention shortly after his arrival.

[3:2]  Interestingly there is no mention of Jewish women married to foreign men. The whole situation revolves around foreign wives. There is not even any effort made to convert them to Judaism. Israel is the "holy seed" and must not become contaminated by the "abominations" of the Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, and Egyptians. Mixed marriages would be "sacrilege" against the holy. At the core of this view of the situation lies not only a midrashic interpretation of the various laws in the Torah regarding intermarriage (Ex. 34:11ff.; Deut. 7:1ff.; 23:4ff.) but the notion that the land, being resettled as in the days of the conquest, was once more susceptible to the taint of its aboriginal impurity (cf. Ezra 9–10 with Deut. 7–9). The procedure which culminated in that fateful assembly on 20 Kislev, 458, bore distinct resemblance to the ceremonies surrounding the condemnation of Achan, who committed sacrilege through misappropriation of the devoted things (cf. Ezra 9:110:8 with Josh. 7; Deut. 7:2, 26).

[3:3]  The mourning and confession of Ezra upon learning of the mixed marriages and the subsequent ceremony on that rainy day established the mood appropriate to the dissolution of the mixed marriages. However, the act itself was preceded by three months of work, from the first of Tevet to the first of Nisan, which consisted of investigating and recording the names, according to their families, of each male who had married a foreign wife. The list is headed by four members of the high-priestly family who agreed to put away their foreign wives and offered a ram as a guilt offering (Ezra 10:9–19), the sacrifice prescribed for one who unknowingly committed sacrilege against a sacred object (Lev. 5:14ff.). The number of lay families as recorded in the Masoretic Text was ten but a Septuagint reading in Ezra (10:38) yields the traditional 12. The latter figure indicates that although the recorded instances (111 or 113) were few, relative to the size of the population, the desecration affected "all Israel." Strangely, the outcome of this enterprise is uncertain. The concluding verse to the whole account in the Masoretic Text is obscure and noncommittal, but the apocryphal Book of Esdras is decisive in asserting that the men all sent away their foreign wives together with their children (I Esd. 9:36).

[4:1]  Similarly uncertain are the circumstances surrounding the next step attempted in the Restoration of the people to its land. The source for the event is an Aramaic correspondence between officials in Samaria and Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:8–23). The letters are not dated and the account is incorporated into Ezra according to a topical {pertaining to or dealing with matters of current or local interest.} arrangement—setbacks first (Ezra 4), successes, last (Ezra 5–6)—rather than a chronological one (i.e., Ezra 4:6–23 preceding Neh. 1). The Samarian officials were the chancellor Rehum and the scribe Shimshai. They write in the name of the local bureaucracy as well as of the settlers from Erech, Babylon, Susa, and elsewhere, introduced into the area by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (669–27), possibly around 642. The letter informs Artaxerxes I that the Jews who recently arrived (along with Ezra?) were busily fortifying Jerusalem. It goes on to say that the city was notoriously rebellious and that if the fortifications were to be completed, the people would merely not pay royal taxes. The king reported back to his officials that he had duly investigated the reputation of Jerusalem and discovered that it had been a rebellious city as charged. He therefore ordered the Samarian officials to proceed to Jerusalem and put a halt to the fortifications. They acted with dispatch and by force of arms

[4:2]  The desire of the Jews to refortify Jerusalem was natural. Jeremiah had prophesied that "the city would be rebuilt upon its mound" (Jer. 30:18), and according to Deutero-Isaiah, Cyrus himself would carry out the task (Isa. 44:28). Cyrus apparently never issued such orders and hopes for an early Davidic restoration ceased with Zerubbabel's inexplicable disappearance from the scene. The broad powers given to Ezra may have encouraged the Jews to believe that the time was ripe to rebuild Jerusalem. Perhaps, too, the struggle for independence pursued by Egypt, now in alliance with Athens, spurred on Judah. Whatever the reason, the plan miscarried. The northern rival Samaria prevailed and Judah was put to shame. Word of the situation eventually reached Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer in Susa. His immediate reaction was similar to that of Ezra upon learning of the mixed marriages—fasting and confession of guilt (Neh. 1). However, Nehemiah was a decisive man of action. Praying to God for assistance, he sought an appropriate moment to ask leave of the king to travel to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem. Leave was granted, and preparations for the journey and the task to be undertaken were carefully laid. Nehemiah requested, and received, letters of safe conduct and a military escort—unlike Ezra, who relied on divine assistance alone—along with an authorization to the keeper of the king's forest for timber for a Temple citadel, his own residence, as well as for the wall of the city (Neh. 2:1–9).

5.  Nehemiah
[5:1]  The account of Nehemiah's activity is reported in his own memoirs. Like Ezra, Nehemiah ascribed his success with the king to the hand of God (Neh. 2:8). Historically it is not clear what prompted Artaxerxes I to contradict himself in 445 and allow the reconstruction of the walls he had earlier ordered destroyed. Perhaps the high position and forceful personality of Nehemiah were responsible. Nehemiah noted that the queen was present when he put forth his request. Certainly he showed skill in formulating his petition. Like Haman who sought from Ahasuerus destruction of "a certain people" who "do not keep the king's laws" (Esth. 3:8), without mentioning the Jews by name, so Nehemiah sought permission from Artaxerxes to rebuild "the city of the graves of my fathers" (Neh. 2:5), not specifying Jerusalem. Even if the king were fully aware that the permission being granted Nehemiah reversed an earlier decision of his, he may have felt that if his trusted servant were in charge of the project, fear of rebellion was minimal. Accordingly, Nehemiah was appointed governor of Judah, a post he held from 445 until 433 (Neh. 5:14) and then again for an unspecified period after returning to the court at Susa (Neh. 13:6–7). This appointment may also have been an attempt to strengthen Persian control in the area in the wake of the recent rebellion of Megabyzus, satrap of the Trans-Euphrates.

[6:1]  In his memoirs, Nehemiah described his task of building the wall as having gone through seven stages, each one punctuated by opposition on the part of Judah's neighbors. These were Sanballat (I) the Horonite, governor of Samaria (cf. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 30:29), Tobiah of Transjordan, and Geshem (Gashmu) king of Kedar (cf. Tell el-Maskhuteh inscription). Both Sanballat and Tobiah were "Jewish," i.e., worshipers of the God of Israel, as attested either by their own names or those of their descendants (cf. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 30:29; Aramaic papyri from Wadi Daliyeh), who inherited their official posts. Both were allied by marriage to prominent families in Judah (Neh. 6:17ff.; 13:28). For a time Tobiah enjoyed a chamber in the Jerusalem Temple (Neh. 13:4ff.). The factors that allowed the high priest Eliashib to join Nehemiah in reconstructing the wall in the teeth of Sanballat's opposition yet permitted Eliashib's grandson to marry a daughter of Sanballat to Nehemiah's great annoyance (Neh. 13:28) are unknown. Suffice it to say that all three foreigners viewed Nehemiah as a personal enemy. The feeling was reciprocated. He never referred to Sanballat as "governor," denigrated Tobiah by referring to him as the "Ammonite servant" (Neh. 2:10), and called Geshem simply "the Arabian."

[6:2]  The first stage of Nehemiah's activity was his journey to Jerusalem. His arrival greatly displeased Sanballat and Tobiah because "someone had come to seek the welfare of the Israelites" (Neh. 2:10). In stealth and with circumspection Nehemiah conducted a nocturnal inspection of the wall and then inspired the leaders to agree to reconstruction by informing them of the divine and royal favor he enjoyed. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem mocked and derided the decision of this second stage of Nehemiah's activity, but he replied with an affirmation of divine assistance and told them decisively, and apparently not gratuitously, "you have no share, right, or memorial in Jerusalem" (Neh. 2:11–20). The policy of exclusion initiated by Zerubbabel (Ezra 4:2–3) and carried through by Ezra (Ezra 9–10) was now being vigorously pursued by Nehemiah.

[6:3]  The third stage in Nehemiah's activity constituted the actual building (Neh. 3). Jeremiah had prophesied, "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel... to the Horse Gate... sacred to the Lord" (Jer. 31:38ff.). The wall was divided into some 40 sections, and groups from all classes of the people were assigned to work on each section. The first section extended from the Sheep Gate to the Tower of Hananel and was restored by the high priest Eliashib (Neh. 3:1). One of the last sections constructed was the Horse Gate where, too, priests were at work (Neh. 3:28). In addition to providing a detailed description of the wall, the list is valuable for some of the random information it supplies, e.g., it indicates the presence of guilds in Jerusalem such as the goldsmiths', the ointment mixers', and the merchants' guild (Neh. 3:8, 31). When Sanballat and Tobiah learned that construction had begun in earnest they became angry and expressed themselves in mockery, "Can they revive the stones from the dust heap? From burned stones? Should a fox jump up, he would demolish their stone wall." Nehemiah cursed them for their taunts as the work proceeded apace until the wall reached half its intended height (Neh. 3:33–38). The reaction of Sanballat and Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites to this fourth stage of the reconstruction was to prepare armed intervention. Word of the plan reached Nehemiah through the Jews dwelling in those districts, and he not only placed guards at vulnerable spots along the wall but armed the builders. He encouraged the workers by assuring them that should attack come, "our God will fight for us" (Neh. 5:14).

[6:4]  This fifth stage of activity almost brought the work to its completion. It was now threatened, however, by internal discontent. Jews were not behaving like "brothers." Short of food to eat and money for taxes, many were forced to take costly loans, mortgage their fields, and sell their children into slavery. Even Nehemiah and his servants were guilty of extorting heavy interest and taking pledges. Demanding interest from a brother in need was incompatible with fear of the Lord (Neh. 5:9; cf. Lev. 25:36) and would not be conducive to God's blessing on the newly occupied land (cf. Deut. 23:20–21). If the building of the wall were to be brought to successful completion, all debts had to be canceled and pledges returned. Nehemiah convened an assembly of the people and forced his reform through (Neh. 5).

[6:5]  Unable to thwart the building itself, Sanballat and Geshem sought to lure Nehemiah into a private conference where presumably his life would be threatened. They circulated the rumor that he was planning a rebellion and appointing prophets to acclaim him king of Judah. They themselves hired Noadiah the prophetess to frighten him and the prophet Shemaiah son of Delaiah to entice him into seeking refuge in the Temple. Tobiah's allies in Judah likewise spoke to Nehemiah on behalf of Tobiah. The reaction of Nehemiah's enemies to this stage availed as little as the earlier ones. After 52 days of strenuous labor, the wall was finished on 25 Elul, 445. Josephus maintained that the labor took two years and four months (Ant. 11:179). There remained nothing for the "enemies" to do but appear downcast and acknowledge God's contribution to the project (Neh. 6), and so the seventh and final stage of Nehemiah's building activity was brought to a successful conclusion. Guards of the city were appointed and Nehemiah's God-fearing brother, Hanani(ah), was put in charge of the citadel (Neh. 7:1–3).


[7:1]  It was now the 14th year since the arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem and nothing had yet been said of his having implemented the instruction to teach the Torah (Ezra 7:25). No doubt he had been engaged in this project over the years, gathering around himself a band of teachers, primarily levites, able to expound the Torah and render it into the Aramaic vernacular. The timing was now right for a grand ceremony patterned on that of Zerubbabel and the first repatriates. To emphasize the imitation of the earlier period the editor of the historical source (Ezra-Nehemiah) even reproduced verbatim the original list of repatriates (Ezra 2; Neh. 7:6–72). Although fortification of Jerusalem enhanced the status of Judah and removed its shame, Davidic kingship had not been restored. Foreign rulers still occupied the land. The gains already achieved could only be maintained if the people observed the Torah.

[7:2]  On the first of Tishri after their return, Zerubbabel and the Jews with him had reestablished the Temple altar to offer burnt offerings "as written in the Torah of Moses the man of God" (Ezra 3:1–7). Now on the first of Tishri after the completion of the wall the people called upon Ezra to publicly read from the "book of the Torah of Moses which the Lord prescribed for Israel" (Neh. 8:1). The description of the ceremony, which began at sunrise, makes it clear that Ezra was prepared for the occasion. A special wooden podium was prepared, and six men stood on his right and seven on his left, altogether 14. Upon opening the Torah, Ezra blessed God and the people responded with "Amen," and prostrated themselves. Ezra then read until noon and 13 levites expounded the significance of the text and perhaps translated it into Aramaic. The people interrupted the reading with crying, and Ezra and Nehemiah informed them that the day was holy, one of rejoicing, feasting, and giving gifts to the poor. Similarly, when the Temple foundations had been laid, the elders who remembered the original Temple broke out in tears, while others rejoiced (Ezra 3:12).

[7:3]  After the original repatriates had dedicated the altar on the first of Tishri, they celebrated the seven days of Sukkot by offering the sacrifices, "according to number and prescription." This would bring the number of bulls to 70 (Num. 29:12–32), suggesting the 70 members of Jacob's family (Gen. 46:27: Ex. 1:5) and indicating the unity of Israel. The Jews under Ezra and Nehemiah gathered on the second of Tishri to continue studying the Torah and they discovered "written in the Torah which the Lord prescribed through Moses that the Israelites should dwell in booths on the festival of the seventh month" (Neh. 8:14). And so "the whole congregation which had returned from the captivity" constructed booths on their roofs, in their courtyards, in the Temple courtyards, and in public squares. Such an observance had not been held since the days of Joshua, i.e., the time of the conquest. The Torah was read daily throughout the festival (Neh. 8:13–18). Is it coincidental that these Torah-reading ceremonies fell in the 14th year? (Ezra arrived in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I and Nehemiah in the 20th year.) Might this have been related to the Deuteronomic injunction to publicly read the Torah every seventh year, the year of release, at Sukkot time with the idea of instructing future generations "as long as they live in the land which you are about... to occupy" (Deut. 31:10ff.)?

[7:4]  The imagery of the booth (sukkah {Hebrew. a booth or hut roofed with branches, used during the Jewish festival of Sukkoth as a temporary dining or living area.}) recurs in the Bible with overtones of redemption and providence. The levitical injunction to dwell in booths is explained by the notion that God settled the Israelites in booths (sukkot: cf. also Ex. 12:37) when He delivered them from Egypt (Lev. 23:43). Subsequently God's own booth or dwelling was in Jerusalem. There He protected His people (Ps. 76). After God's judgment of the wicked city the purified remnant will again be protected by a booth (Isa. 4). The activity of Nehemiah in rebuilding Jerusalem's walls and repairing its breaches (cf. Neh. 1:3; 2:5, 17; 3:35) was doubtless believed to fulfill the prophecy of Amos that God would "raise up the fallen booth of David" (Amos 9:11). The final deliverance—complete independence—would be celebrated annually when the nations came to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on the occasion of Sukkot (Zech. 14:16).

[7:5]  To hasten that day the Jews now reconstituted on their soil, their Temple reconstructed, and the city fortified, concluded on the 24th of Tishri a solemn agreement to "follow the law of God which had been transmitted through Moses the servant of God." The covenant ceremony was preceded by purification, i.e., separation from the foreigners, fasting, sackcloth, and confession, and concluded with the signature of a written document by Nehemiah, 21 priestly families, 17 Levites and 44 lay families (Neh. 9:110:30). In addition to having sworn to observe the written Torah, the people undertook to observe some 18 decrees not explicitly mentioned in the Torah but derived from it through the procedure of midrash halakhah, "legal interpretation," developed by Ezra and his associates. The earlier celebration of Sukkot, building booths out of the various species "as written" (Neh. 8:15; cf. Lev. 23:40) is an example of such interpretation and of one subsequently abandoned. The decrees, now recorded, centered around the prohibition of mixed marriage, the observance of the Sabbath and the seventh year, and provisions designed to show that the people would "not neglect the House of... God" (Neh. 10:31–40).

[7:6]  Nehemiah had raised up Jerusalem's stones from the dust (Neh. 3:34) in answer to the call of Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. 52:2). The agreement not to intermarry (Neh. 9:2, 10, 29, 31) was necessary toward fulfillment of the promise that "the uncircumcised and the unclean" shall no more come into the "holy city" (Isa. 52:1). Jeremiah had promised that once more people would proclaim, "the Lord bless you... O holy hill" and that "Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together" (Jer. 31:22–23). The penultimate task of Nehemiah was thus the populating of the now secure and spacious "holy city." The leaders already lived there and the rest of the people cast lots to bring 10% of Judah's population into the capital. The partial list of towns in which the rest of the people were settled indicates that the southernmost town was Beer-Sheba and the northernmost Bethel. The western border extended to Ono, while the list of the first repatriates and the list of builders indicated that to the east the province of Judah included Jericho (Ezra 2:34; Neh. 7:36, 3:2, 7:4; 11:1–36).

[7:7]  The final ceremony in which Nehemiah participated was the dedication of the walls. The people, the gates, and the wall were purified. Two musical processions were organized to march around the city in opposite directions on the top of the wall and meet in the Temple for the sacrificial service. The procession going to the right was led by Ezra; the one to the left included Nehemiah. The circumambulation is reminiscent of certain Psalms: "His holy mountain... is the joy of all the earth... walk about Zion; go round about her" (Ps. 48:2, 13).

[7:8]  Nehemiah remained in Jerusalem for another dozen years before returning to Susa. Virtually nothing is known of his rule during this period other than his own statement that he ruled with a lighter hand than his predecessors and did not claim the governor's food allowance from the local populace. This in spite of the fact that he supported a retinue of 150 and regularly entertained foreign visitors. The refrain in Nehemiah's memoirs runs "Remember to my credit, O my God, all that I did on behalf of this people" (Neh. 5:19; 13:14, 22, 31). God's attention is similarly drawn to his opponents (Ezra 6:14), and these did not disappear after his main task was completed. During Nehemiah's absence, Tobiah was assigned a chamber in the Temple by Eliashib the priest, and the people failed to pay the Levites their allotments, so that they left Jerusalem and retired to their fields. Upon his return, Nehemiah expelled Tobiah and enforced payment of the tithe (Neh. 13:4–14).

[7:9]  Even more serious than neglect of the levitical dues were the outright violations of the first two decrees in the solemn agreement sworn to earlier—work and commerce on the Sabbath and marriage to Ashdodite, Ammonite, and Moabite women. Nehemiah rebuked the leaders for the Sabbath desecration in terms reminiscent of Jeremiah who had said, "If... you keep the Sabbath day holy... this city shall be inhabited forever.... If you did not listen... fire... shall devour... Jerusalem" (Jer. 17:24–27). He then ordained that the gates of the city be shut for the Sabbath and the levites stand guard against local and foreign traders. The fate of Solomon's kingdom was cited against the men who took foreign wives, and Nehemiah cursed all, struck some and pulled out their hair. The grandson of the high priest Eliashib, who was married to a daughter of Sanballat, was "chased away." Successful implementation of the other cultic decrees was assured (Neh. 13:14–31).

[7:10]  Since kingship was not to be restored until the advent of the Hasmoneans 300 years later, Judah continued to exist as a theocracy—a province ruled by God's law with a civil head in the person of the governor appointed by the Persian king and a religious head in the person of the high priest of the line of Zadok. In the fourth century there appear coins and seal impressions bearing the Aramaic inscription YHD Yahud = Judea. With one or two notable exceptions, our information for the remaining 100 years of Persian rule dries up. It is possible that Nehemiah's brother Hananiah succeeded him as governor (cf. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 21). In the last decade of the fifth century the governor was one who bore the Persian name Bagohi (Cowley, 30/31). The high priest Johanan was challenged by his brother Jeshua and Johanan murdered him. A stiff penalty was thereupon placed on the community by the strategos of Artaxerxes II who also bore the name Bagohi (Jos., Ant., 11:298–301). One incident that has come down through the Aramaic papyri relates that Bagohi joined the sons of Sanballat, Delaiah, and Shelemiah, in responding favorably to the request of the Elephantine Jewish community for intercession with the Persian ruler in Egypt toward the reconstruction of their temple (Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 30–32). The attraction-repulsion between Samaria and Judah of the days of Nehemiah repeated itself on the eve of Alexander's conquest. Nikaso, daughter of Sanballat III, was married to Manasseh, brother of the high priest Jaddua. Jerusalem authorities objected to the marriage and asked Manasseh to choose between his wife and the priesthood. He thereupon accepted the offer of Sanballat to be high priest in the temple to be erected on Mt. Gerizim and "governor of all the places" under Sanballat's control. Many Jewish priests followed him to Samaria (Jos., Ant., 11:306–12). The Samaritan schism thereupon became final. 

[Bezalel Porten] 
Ph.D.; Teaching Fellow in Jewish History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; 
Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Haifa University 
Top - Ezra


From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed September 21, 2003].

1.  JESUS  {WikipediA}

[1:1]  JESUS (d. 30 C.E.), whom Christianity sees as its founder and object of faith, was a Jew who lived toward the end of the Second Commonwealth period. The martyrdom of his brother James is narrated by Josephus (Ant. 20:200–3), but the passage in the same work (18:63–64) speaking about the life and death of Jesus was either rewritten by a Christian or represents a Christian interpolation. The first Roman authors to mention Jesus are Tacitus and Suetonius. The historicity of Jesus is proved by the very nature of the records in the New Testament, especially the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospels are records about the life of Jesus. John's Gospel is more a treatise reflecting the theology of its author than a biography of Jesus, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke present a reasonably faithful picture of Jesus as a Jew of his time. The picture of Jesus contained in them is not so much of a redeemer of mankind as of a Jewish miracle maker and preacher. The Jesus portrayed in these three Gospels is, therefore, the historical Jesus. 
2.  The Gospels

[2:1]  The precise date of the composition of the Gospels is not known, but all four were written before 100 C.E. and it is certain that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are interdependent. Scholars call these three the Synoptic Gospels because they can be written in parallel columns, such form being called synopsis. It is generally accepted that the main substance of the Synoptic Gospels comes from two sources: an old account of the life of Jesus which is reproduced by Mark, and a collection of Jesus' sayings used in conjuction with the old account by Matthew and Luke. Most scholars today identify the old account that lies behind Mark with the known Gospel of Mark, but a serious analysis, based especially upon the supposed Hebrew original, shows that Mark had entirely rewritten the material. It may be assumed, therefore, that the old account, and not the revision, was known to both Luke and Matthew. According to R. Lindsey (R. L. Lindsey, Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark (1969)), Matthew and Luke, besides drawing upon the sayings, also drew directly upon the old account; the editor of Mark used Luke for his version, and Matthew, besides using the old account, often drew also upon Mark. Lindsey's conclusions are also supported by other arguments.

[2:2]  Both of the chief sources of the Synoptic Gospels, the old account, and the collection of Jesus' sayings, were produced in the primitive Christian congregation in Jerusalem, and were translated into Greek from Aramaic or Hebrew. They contained the picture of Jesus as seen by the disciples who knew him. The present Gospels are redactions {to put into suitable literary form} of these two sources, which were often changed as a result of ecclesiastical tendentiousness {bias}. This becomes especially clear in the description of Jesus' trial and crucifixion in which all Gospel writers to some degree exaggerate Jewish "guilt" and minimize Pilate's involvement. As the tension between the Church and the Synagogue grew, Christians were not interested in stressing the fact that the founder of their faith was executed by a Roman magistrate. But even in the case of Jesus' trial, as in other instances, advance toward historical reality can be made by comparing the sources according to principles of literary criticism and in conjunction with the study of the Judaism of the time.

3.  The Name, Birth, and Death Date of Jesus

[3:1]  Jesus is the common Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Jesus' father, Joseph, his mother, Mary (in Heb. Miriam), and his brothers, James (in Heb., Jacob), Joses (Joseph), Judah, and Simon (Mark. 6:3) likewise bore very popular Hebrew names. Jesus also had sisters, but their number and names are unknown. Jesus Christ means "Jesus the Messiah" and according to Jewish belief, the Messiah was to be a descendant of David. Both Matthew (1:2–16) and Luke (3:23–38) provide a genealogy leading back to David, but the two genealogies agree only from Abraham down to David. Thus, it is evident that both genealogies were constructed to show Jesus' Davidic descent, because the early Christian community believed that he was the Messiah. Matthew and Luke set Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the city of David's birth. This motif is made comprehensible if it is assumed that many believed the Messiah would also be born in Bethlehem, an assumption clearly seen in John 7:41–42, which, telling of some who denied that Jesus is the Messiah, says: "Is the Christ (Messiah) to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" John therefore knew neither that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem nor that he was descended from David. The home of Jesus and his family was Nazareth in Galilee and it is possible that he was born there. {Religion is an hypothesis designed to achieve peace-of-mind. As long as it brings peace-of-mind, facts and logic do not matter. Mark Twain} 

[3:2]  The story of Jesus' birth from the virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit without an earthly father exists in the two independent literary versions of Matthew and Luke. It is not to be found in Mark or John, who both begin their Gospel with Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus' virgin birth is not presupposed in other parts of the New Testament. Apart from Matthew and Luke, the first to mention the virgin birth is Ignatius of Antiochia (d. 107). According to Luke's data, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist either in 27/28 or 28/29 C.E., when he was about the age of 30. On the evidence in the first three Gospels, the period between his baptism and crucifixion comprised no more than one year; although according to John it ran to two or even three years. It seems that on the point of the duration of Jesus' public ministry the Synoptic Gospels are to be trusted. Most probably, then, Jesus was baptized in 28/29 and died in the year 30 C.E. 

4.  Jesus' Family and Circle

[4:1]  Jesus's father, Joseph, was a carpenter in Nazareth and it is almost certain that he died before Jesus was baptized. All the Gospels state that there was a tension between Jesus and his family, although after Jesus' death his family overcame their disbelief and took an honorable place in the young Jewish-Christian community. Jesus' brother, James, became the head of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem and when he was murdered by a Sadducean high priest (62 C.E.) for the faith in his brother, he was succeeded by Simon, a cousin of Jesus. Grandsons of Jesus' brother, Judah, lived until the reign of Trajan and were leaders of Christian churches apparently in Galilee.

[4:2]  John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus in the river Jordan, was an important religious Jewish personality; he is recorded in Josephus (Ant. 18:116–9) as well as the New Testament. From Josephus it is seen that John's baptismal theology was identical with that of the Essenes. According to the Gospels, in the moment of Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven proclaimed his election. When he left John the Baptist, Jesus did not return to Nazareth, but preached in the area northwest of the Sea of Galilee. Later, after his unsuccessful visit to his native Nazareth, he returned again to the district around Capernaum, performed miraculous healings, and proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven. From his closest disciples he appointed 12 apostles to be, at the Last Judgment, judges of the 12 tribes of Israel. After the death of Jesus the 12 apostles provided the leadership for the Jerusalem Church. 

5. The Arrest of Jesus

[5:1]  Meanwhile, Herod Antipas, who had beheaded John the Baptist, also wanted to kill Jesus, whom he saw as the heir of the Baptist, but Jesus wanted to die in Jerusalem, which was reputed for "killing the prophets" (Luke 13:34). With Passover drawing near, Jesus decided to make a pilgrimage to the Temple at Jerusalem. There he openly predicted the future destruction of the Temple and the overthrow of the Temple hierarchy. According to the sources, he even tried to drive out the traders from the precincts of the Temple, saying, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of robbers" (Luke 19:45–6). These actions precipitated the catastrophe. The Sadducean priesthood, despised by everyone, found its one support in the Temple, and Jesus not only attacked them but even publicly predicted the destruction of their Temple. The first three Gospels indicate that Jesus' last supper was the paschal meal. When night had fallen he reclined at the table with the 12 apostles and said: "With all my heart I have longed to eat this paschal lamb with you before I die, for I tell you: I will never eat it again until I eat it anew in the Kingdom of God." He took a cup of wine, recited the benediction over it and said: "take it and share it among you; for I tell you, I will not again drink of the fruit of the vine until I drink it new in the Kingdom of God." He took bread, recited the blessing over it and said: "This is my body" (cf. Luke 22:15–19). Thus Jesus' Passover meal under the shadow of death became the origin of the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist.

[5:2]  After the festive meal, Jesus left the city together with his disciples and went to the nearby Mount of Olives, to the garden of Gethsemane. There, although he had foreseen the danger of his death, he prayed for his life (Luke 22:39–46). One of the 12 apostles, Judas Iscariot, had already betrayed him from unknown motives. Judas had gone to the high priests and told them he would deliver Jesus to them and they had promised to give him money (Mark 14:10–11). The Temple guard, accompanied by Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus and took him to the high priest. 

6.  The "Trial" and Crucifixion

[6:1]  The Gospels in their present form contain descriptions of the so-called "trial" of Jesus rewritten in a way making them improbable from the historical point of view. Nevertheless, a literary analysis of the sources is capable of revealing a closer approximation of the reality. In the first three Gospels, the Pharisees are not mentioned in connection with the trial, and in John, only once (18:3). Luke (22:66) and Matthew (26:59) explicitly mention the Sanhedrin once, and Mark mentions it twice (14:55; 15:1). In the whole of Luke—not just in his description of the Passion—there is no mention of the Sanhedrin's verdict against Jesus, and John records nothing about an assembly of the Sanhedrin before which Jesus appeared. Thus it seems very probable that no session of the Sanhedrin took place in the house of the high priest where Jesus was in custody and that the "chief priests and elders and scribes" who assembled there were members of the Temple committee (see also Luke 20:1): the elders were apparently the elders of the Temple and the scribes were the Temple secretaries. The deliverance of Jesus into the hands of the Romans was, it seems, the work of the Sadducean "high priests," who are often mentioned alone in the story. A man suspected of being a messianic pretender could be delivered to the Romans without a verdict of the Jewish high court. In addition, the high priests were interested in getting rid of Jesus, who had spoken against them and had predicted the destruction of the Temple. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate ultimately had Jesus executed in the Roman way, by crucifixion. All the Gospels indicate that on the third day after the crucifixion Jesus' tomb was found empty. According to Mark an angel announced that Jesus had risen, and the other Gospels state that Jesus appeared before his believers after his death.  
7.  Jesus and the Jewish Background

[7:1]  The tension between the Church and the Synagogue often caused the Gospels, by means of new interpretations and later emendations, to evoke the impression that there was a necessary rift between Jesus and the Jewish way of life under the law. The first three Gospels, however, portray Jesus as a Jew who was faithful to the current practice of the law. On the matter of washing hands (Mark 7:5) and plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23ff.), it was the disciples, not the master, who were less strict in their observance of the law. According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus did not heal by physical means on the Sabbath but only by words, healing through speech having always been permitted on the Sabbath, even when the illness was not dangerous. The Gospels provide sufficient evidence to the effect that Jesus did not oppose any prescription of the Written or Oral Mosaic Law, and that he even performed Jewish religious commandments. On all of the foregoing points the less historical John differs from the first three Gospels.

[7:2]  The wording of the Gospels exaggerates the clashes between Jesus and the Pharisees. This becomes evident after an analysis of Jesus' sayings which are a more faithful preservation than are the tendentious descriptions of the situation in which the sayings were uttered. Jesus' major polemical sayings against the Pharisees describe them as hypocrites, an accusation occurring not only in the Essene Dead Sea Scrolls and, indirectly, in a saying of the Sadducean king, Alexander Yannai, but also in rabbinic literature, which is an expression of true Pharisaism. In general, Jesus' polemical sayings against the Pharisees were far meeker than the Essene attacks and not sharper than similar utterances in the talmudic sources. Jesus was sufficiently Pharisaic in general outlook to consider the Pharisees as true heirs and successors of Moses. Although Jesus would probably not have defined himself as a Pharisee, his beliefs, especially his moral beliefs, are similar to the Pharisaic school of Hillel which stresses the love of God and neighbor. Jesus, however, pushed this precept much further than did the Jews of his time and taught that a man must love even his enemies. Others preached mutual love and blessing one's persecutors, but the command to love one's enemies is uniquely characteristic of Jesus {Yes love him; but turn the other cheek only during tyrannical times such as when a weak Jew was against the Nazi-German beasts.} and he is in fact the only one to utter this commandment in the whole of the New Testament. 

[7:3]  The liberal Pharisaic school of Hillel was not unhappy to see gentiles become Jews. In contrast, the school of Shammai made conversion as difficult as possible because it had grave reservations about proselytism, most of which Jesus shared (Matt. 23:15). As a rule he even did not heal non-Jews. It should be noted that none of the rabbinical documents says that one should not heal a non-Jew.

[7:4]  In beliefs and way of life, Jesus was closer to the Pharisees than to the Essenes. He accepted, however, a part of the Essene social outlook. Although Jesus was not a social revolutionary, the social implications of his message are stronger than that of the rabbis. Like the Essenes, Jesus also regarded all possessions as a threat to true piety and held poverty, humility, purity of heart, and simplicity to be the essential religious virtues. Jesus, as did the Essenes, had an awareness of and affection for the social outcast and the oppressed. The Essene author of the Thanksgiving Scroll (18:14–15) promises salvation to the humble, to the oppressed in spirit, and to those who mourn, while Jesus in the first three beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount promises the Kingdom of Heaven to "the poor in spirit" to "those who mourn," and to "the meek" (Matt. 5:3–5). Moreover, Jesus' rule "Do not resist one who is evil" (Matt. 5:39) has clear parallels in the Essene Dead Sea Scrolls. 
8.  Jesus as the Messiah

[8:1]  The early Christian Church believed Jesus to be the expected Messiah of Israel, and he is described as such in the New Testament; but whether Jesus thought himself to be the Messiah is by no means clear. Throughout the New Testament there are indications that Jesus had seen himself as a prophet. The Ebionites and Nazarenes, Jewish Christian sects, both ranked Jesus among the prophets and stressed his prophetic role. Jesus himself apparently never used the word "Messiah," and always spoke of the "Son of Man" in the third person, as though he himself were not identical with that person. The "Son of Man" originally appears in the Book of Daniel (7:9–14) as the man-like judge of the Last Days. Jesus based his account of the "Son of Man" on the original biblical description of a superhuman, heavenly sublimity, who, seated upon the throne of God, will judge the whole human race. In Jewish literature of the Second Commonwealth, the "Son of Man" is frequently identified with the Messiah and it is probable that Jesus used the phrase in this way too. In his own lifetime, it is certain that Jesus became accepted by many as the Messiah. The substance of many sayings make it obvious that Jesus did not always refer to the coming "Son of Man" in the third person simply to conceal his identity, but because Jesus actually did not believe himself to be the Messiah. Yet other apparently authentic sayings of Jesus can be understood only if it is assumed that Jesus thought himself to be the "Son of Man." Thus Jesus' understanding of himself as the Messiah was probably inconsistent, or at first he was waiting for the Messiah, but at the end, he held the conviction that he himself was the Messiah.

[8:2]  In the faith of the Church, Jesus, the Jewish prophet from Galilee, became the object of a drama which could bring salvation to pious spectators. This drama developed from two roots: Jesus' conception of himself as being uniquely near to his Heavenly Father, his message about the coming of the "Son of Man," and other Jewish mythical and messianic doctrines; the other root was Jesus' tragic death, interpreted in terms of Jewish concepts about the expiatory power of martyrdom. If, as Christians believe, the martyr was at the same time the Messiah, then his death has a cosmic importance. Through the teachings of Jesus, as well as through other channels, the Jewish moral message entered Christianity. Thus the historical Jesus has served as a bridge between Judaism and Christianity, as well as one of the causes for their separation. {Spinoza serves as bridge between both (Judaism and Christianity) and the coming (in time) Universal Religion.}

[David Flusser] 
Ph.D.; Professor of Comparative Religion, 
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 
D. Flusser, Jesus (1969) 
Top to Jesus:EJ

From Encyclopædia Britannica Online. [Accessed September 22, 2003].  

1.  Jesus: Name and title  

[1:1]  Ancient Jews usually had only one name, and, when greater specificity was needed, it was customary to add the father's name or the place of origin. Thus, in his lifetime Jesus was called Jesus son of Joseph (Luke 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42), Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 10:38), or Jesus the Nazarene (Mark 1:24; Luke 24:19). After his death, he came to be called Jesus Christ. Christ was not originally a name but a title derived from the Greek word christos, which translates the Hebrew term meshiah (Messiah), meaning “the anointed one.” This title indicates that Jesus' followers believed him to be the anointed son of King David, whom some Jews expected to restore the fortunes of Israel. Passages such as Acts of the Apostles 2:36 show that some early Christian writers knew that the Christ was properly a title, but in many passages of the New Testament, including those in Paul's letters, the name and the title are combined and used together as Jesus' name: Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1; 3:24). Paul sometimes simply used Christ as Jesus' name (e.g., Romans 5:6).
2.  Summary of Jesus' life

[2:1]  Although born in Bethlehem, according to Matthew and Luke, Jesus was a Galilean from Nazareth, a village near Sepphoris, one of the two major cities of Galilee (Tiberias was the other). He was born to Joseph and Mary shortly before the death of Herod the Great (Matthew 2; Luke 1:26) in 4 BC. According to Matthew and Luke, however, Joseph was only his father legally. They report that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived and that she “was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18; cf. Luke 1:35). Joseph is said to have been a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), that is, a craftsman who worked with his hands, and, according to Mark 6:3, Jesus also became a carpenter.

[2:2]  Luke (2:41–52) states that as a child Jesus was precociously learned, but there is no other evidence of his childhood or early life. As a young adult, he went to be baptized by the prophet John the Baptist and shortly thereafter became an itinerant preacher and healer (Mark 1:2–28). In his mid-30s, Jesus had a short public career, lasting perhaps less than one year, during which he attracted considerable attention. Some time between AD 29 and 33—possibly AD 30—he went to observe Passover in Jerusalem, where his entrance, according to the Gospels, was triumphant and infused with eschatological {any system of religious doctrines concerning last or final matters, as death, judgment, or an afterlife.} significance. While there he was arrested, tried, and executed. His disciples became convinced that he still lived and had appeared to them. They converted others to belief in him, which eventually led to a new religion, Christianity.
{Spinoza serves as bridge between both (Judaism and Christianity) and the coming (in time) Univeral Religion.}

Top to Jesus:EB


From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed August 24, 2003].

SPINOZA, BARUCH (Benedict) DE (1632–1677),
Dutch philosopher, born in Amsterdam.

1.  Life and Works
[1:1]  His father had fled from Portugal to the Dutch Sephardi community where he was a successful merchant until his death in 1654. Spinoza became an outstanding student in the school of the Spanish-Portuguese community, probably studying with Morteira and Manasseh Ben Israel. It has been traditionally claimed that he was led to his irreligious views by studying Latin with a freethinking ex-Jesuit, Van den Enden. Recent studies by Révah indicate it is more likely that his heretical views developed out of heterodox controversies within the Amsterdam Jewish community. A generation earlier, Uriel da Costa had twice been expelled from the community for denying the immortality of the soul, and for contending that all extant religions were manmade. In early 1656 Spinoza, a Spanish doctor, Juan de Prado (1614–1672?), and a schoolteacher, Daniel de Ribera began to attract attention for their heretical opinions, questioning, among other matters, whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch, whether Adam was the first man, and whether the Mosaic law took precedence over natural law. They may have been influenced by Isaac La PeyrIre's (1594 or 1596–1676), French theologian, Bible critic, and anthropologist, apparently of Marrano background.) Praeadamitae which had just been published in Amsterdam. Prado was forced to apologize for his views, and a few days later, on July 27, 1656, Spinoza was excommunicated. The rabbinical pronouncement, signed by Saul Levi Morteira and others, states: 

[1:3]  Spinoza was then anathematized and cursed, and all in the Jewish community were forbidden to be in contact with him. He apparently studied at the University of Leiden after his excommunication, and was in Amsterdam with Prado in 1658–59, where a report to the Spanish Inquisition describes them as denying the Mosaic law and the immortality of the soul, and holding that God only exists philosophically. The hostility of the Jewish community, extending, according to 17th-century reports, to an attempt to kill him, led Spinoza to write an apology for his views in Spanish. The work, now lost, was apparently the basis for his later Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, his work on Bible criticism. (For editions and translations of Spinoza's works see bibliography.) Around 1660 Spinoza left Amsterdam, changed his name to Benedictus (the Latin equivalent of Baruch), became involved with some liberal Protestants, and settled in Rijnsburg where he earned his living grinding lenses. He moved to Voorburg, a suburb of The Hague in 1664, and to The Hague itself in 1670, where he stayed until his death. His correspondence indicates that he was developing his metaphysical system for discussion by a philosophical club in 1663. In the same year he wrote in Latin, Principles of the Philosophy of René Descartes, the only work he signed. The work presents Descartes' philosophy in geometrical form, and indicates Spinoza's basic points of disagreement with Cartesianism. His friend, Louis Meyer, published the work with an introduction and an appendix containing Spinoza's "Thoughts on Metaphysics." A Dutch edition appeared the next year.

[1:4]  In 1670 his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus appeared unsigned, presenting his critique of revealed religion, his justification for intellectual and religious freedom, and his political theories. This rationalistic attack on religion caused a sensation, and was banned everywhere, and sold with false title pages. Spinoza became notorious, and was constantly accused of being an atheist. To prevent attacks, Spinoza stopped the publication of a Dutch edition of the Tractatus. In 1671 he sent a lengthy letter to the Jewish leader, Orobio de Castro, defending himself against the charges of atheism and irreligion.

[1:5]  Because of his fame, Spinoza was offered, in 1673, the chair of philosophy at Heidelberg by the Elector Palatine and was promised freedom to philosophize provided that he would not disturb the established religion. Spinoza declined the post, saying that he preferred his quiet life of philosophical research to teaching, and that he could not control the occurrence of religious dissension.

[1:6]  Although Spinoza lived apart from public affairs, he briefly became involved during the French invasion of Holland in 1672. Spinoza had been a friend of the political leader, Jan de Witt (who had given him a small pension), and was profoundly agitated and disturbed when an angry mob, blaming De Witt and his brother for the catastrophe, turned on them and killed them. He told Leibniz, who had come to visit him, that he had tried to put up a sign reading "Ultimi barbarorum," but his landlord locked him in the house, lest he too be murdered.

[1:7]  Shortly thereafter Spinoza was called to Utrecht by the French commander, the Prince of Condé. Though they never met, other French officers told Spinoza that if he dedicated a work to Louis XIV, he would probably receive a pension. Spinoza declined the offer, but on his return to The Hague, was accused of being a French agent.

[1:8]  By 1674 Spinoza had completed his major work, the Ethics, and showed manuscript copies to his friends. He tried in 1675 to have the work published only to find that theologians blocked this effort on the grounds that Spinoza was denying the existence of God. Spinoza abandoned plans to have his book printed. He continued his simple quiet life, writing and discussing philosophy with Leibniz, among others, but making no efforts to convert people to his radical views. He managed to live out his life without belonging to any sect or church. He died of consumption which may have been aggravated by his lens-grinding activities. After his death his Opera Posthuma appeared, containing his Ethics, the unfinished On the Improvement of the Understanding, and the Political Treatise (completed shortly before his death), a Hebrew grammar, and a selection of his letters. His Hebrew grammar, Compendium Grammaticae Linguae Hebraeae, was undertaken at the request of Spinoza's friends some years before his death but remained unfinished. It purported to be a self-tutor to Hebrew but in it Spinoza discussed many of the more complex philological problems of Hebrew grammar. As he was writing mainly for his Christian friends he presented his grammar in the western (Latin) system, following Levita and Reuchlin. He used such terms as activum, passivum (from Latin grammar) and status absolutus. He also divided the alphabet into gutturals, labials, dentals, and palatals, as in modern philological systems. Ten years later, in 1687, his one scientific work, the Treatise on the Rainbow, appeared. It was reissued along with the hitherto unknown work, the Short Treatise on God, Man and his Well-Being, and some letters in Van Vloten's edition, Ad Benedicti de Spinoza opera quae supersunt omnia supplementum (1862).

2.  His Philosophy
[2:1]  CRITIQUE OF REVEALED RELIGION. Spinoza has usually been regarded as the modern philosopher whose life is most consonant with his theory. His simple, eminently moral life, devoted to rational enquiry, seems to have developed out of his rejection of ceremonial Judaism and his efforts to find a basis for rejecting scriptural {theological} authority. Starting from the heterodox currents within the Amsterdam Jewish community, Spinoza developed a critique of Judaism and supernatural religion in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Insisting that religious tenets should be judged only on the basis of reason, Spinoza, using some of the ideas of Abraham ibn Ezra and La PeyrIre, rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and the possibility of genuine prophecy. Spinoza then offered a rationalistic metaphysics within which supernatural events could not occur, and within which the Bible was to be examined as a human document expressing certain human developments of the past. Insisting that miracles were impossible, Spinoza argued that nature is governed by eternal and necessary decrees of G-D. Nothing can be contrary to natural laws. If one examined rationally what was meant by "G-D" and "Nature" it would be clear that nothing supernatural was possible, since G-D determined Nature lawfully; and if one applied the same methods to studying Scripture as are employed in studying nature—"the examination of the history of nature, and therefrom deducing definitions of natural phenomena on certain fixed axioms,"—one would find nothing mysterious or divine in Scripture. Its moral teachings are compatible with those of reason (see below). 

[3:1]  In On the Improvement of the Understanding, Spinoza developed his rationalistic method. Setting out to search for a good which would enable him to enjoy continuous, supreme, and unending happiness, he rejected fame, riches, and ordinary pleasures. As a way to finding this good, he rejected hearsay or information gained by authority, sense information, and deductive conclusions based on incomplete or inadequate understanding. True knowledge by which one could achieve genuine happiness is reached through perceiving things solely through their essences or proximate causes. In this way one knows why something is what it is, why it has the nature it does, or what made it what it is. When one possesses this kind of knowledge, scepticism or doubt is no longer possible. Scepticism is only the result of lack of understanding. The Cartesian doubt based on the possibility that God may be a deceiver is dissipated as soon as one has a clear and distinct or adequate idea of G-D. When we arrive at definitions of things that really explain their natures, and which have complete certainty (which Spinoza found in mathematical knowledge), we can no longer express any doubts or questions. Such a definition, when of a created thing, explains what causes it and allows for the deduction of all of its properties. For an uncreated thing, the definition explains the thing, since it has no causes other than itself (otherwise it would be created) and leaves no room for doubting whether the thing exists or not.

[3:2]  Using this method, Spinoza presented his philosophy in geometrical form in the Ethics. Starting with definitions of terms like "G-D," "substance," "attribute," and "mode," which presumably meet his standards, and with a series of axioms spelling out the nature of causality and existence and including one that states "A true idea must correspond with its ideate or object," Spinoza unfolded his picture of the world in the form of demonstrations of propositions. When challenged as to how he knew this philosophy was the best, he replied, "I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy. If you ask in what way I know it, I answer: In the same way as you know that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles" (Letter LXXIV to Burgh).

[4:1]  The first book of the Ethics demonstratively develops his theory of substance "that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself," insisting first on its unity and simplicity. Then Spinoza established his startling conclusion that G-D or Nature is the only possible substance, and that everything in the world is an aspect of G-D {think of the three blind men and the elephant}, and can be conceived in terms of one of G-D's two knowable attributes, thought or extension. Wolfson has shown that Spinoza's pantheistic conclusion seems to be the result of pondering medieval discussions, especially Jewish, on whether there can be two Gods, and whether God is different from the world. Spinoza's argument is also like that offered by Orobio de Castro against the doctrine of the Trinity. Spinoza also followed the implications of Descartes' two kinds of substances, creative (God) and created (matter and mind), and found that only G-D can really be substantial and all else are just qualifications of Him. 

[4:2]  If G-D or Nature is the only substance, everything else is understood in terms of Him, and is deducible from His essence. G-D acts solely by the laws of his own nature. In terms of this, the world is a logical order, following necessarily from G-D's nature, and nothing could he different than it is. 

[4:3]  In the appendix to Book I, Spinoza spelled out what this meant. G-D is not a purposeful being. There are no goals being achieved. The teleological {the belief that purpose and design are a part of or are apparent in nature} and evaluative interpretation of what is going on is just due to human fears and superstitions and leads to an unworthy conception of G-D. He lacks nothing, needs nothing. He just is, and due to His being, everything happens, and happens of necessity. 

[5:1]  Book two develops this view. Everything is in G-D. He is modified in terms of His two known attributes, thought and extension. The world of body and of mind are two aspects of G-D or Nature. "The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things" (2 prop. 7). The latter can be understood in terms of mathematical physics, the former in terms of logic and psychology, but both are ways of understanding the same substance, G-D. The mind and the body are essentially the same thing. The dualism of Descartes has been rejected, thereby supplying a new solution to the mind-body problem. The mind is the idea of the body. Roth has suggested that Spinoza's monistic rejection of Cartesian dualism is similar to Maimonides' views, which influenced Spinoza. 

[6:1]  For Spinoza the quest for knowledge starts with the confused experience, of which we have images through various physiological processes. The images are related mechanically rather than logically. Through the course of experience, we develop general ideas of what is going on, and through these a level of scientific understanding of the sequence of events taking place. From these we come to adequate ideas which give us a logical and causal understanding, and eliminate our previous confusion and lack of clarity. The highest form of knowledge would be to have complete understanding, to see everything as a logical system from the aspect of eternity. This intuitive knowledge is only completely and adequately possessed by G-D. Complete understanding would be to know the infinite idea of G-D, which we can only approach and thereby, to some extent, become G-D.


[7:1]  Spinoza's psychology then indicates the road toward achieving this goal. Starting from a Hobbesian view of man, we are driven toward self-preservation, constantly affected by the emotions in the form of pleasure and pain. On this level we are in human bondage, moved by causes which we do not understand, since we only have confused ideas of our experiences. As we reach understanding of what is going on in our lives, we achieve human freedom. We are no longer determined by external factors but by our own comprehension. Freedom for Spinoza consists not in being uncaused, but in being determined by oneself alone. The passions no longer control us because we are now guided by the laws of our own nature. When we understand why things are happening, and know they cannot be otherwise, we are liberated from bondage to emotion and ignorance, and are no longer driven aimlessly by feeling and events.

[7:2]  This understanding that gives us freedom is the highest good. We are no longer captives of external events and of the pain they cause. As our ideas become more adequate, and as we reach rational understanding, our ideas become part of the infinite idea of G-D. Our ultimate aim is the intellectual love of G-D which can give us the continuous supreme and unending happiness {better peace-of-mind} that was sought. Thus the philosophical goal of complete wisdom becomes man's salvation. The wise man rises above the ordinary experience and ordinary cares. In concentrating on G-D, the logical order of the universe, and in seeing everything as a necessary deducible aspect of G-D, the wise man achieves blessedness.

[8:1]  Spinoza's political theory, though deriving much from Hobbes, sees the aim of the good society as that of allowing rational men to think freely and achieve true knowledge. This requires civil peace which allows for free thought and discussion. A democracy ruled by men of property, like the Dutch Republic, is most likely to achieve this.

[8:2]  Traditional and popular religions, though not representing God adequately, can serve a useful purpose. For unenlightened, ignorant people, as Spinoza considered the ancient Hebrews to be, the conveying of moral teachings by stories, alleged prophecy, threats, and promises can have an important social effect of making people behave well and of making them obey the laws. The wise man needs only the religion of reason. When he sees the whole as a rational, necessary, scientific order he has arrived at the highest wisdom, morality, and insight.

[8:3]  Spinoza's totally rationalistic vision incorporates some basic Jewish themes: that of the existence and unity of G-D, of the dependence of everything on G-D, of the love of G-D being the highest good and the basis of morality. His view, however, is the first modern one to provide a metaphysical basis for rejecting any form of portraying the human scene as a dramatic interplay of man and G-D. The denial of any distinction between G-D and the world, the denial of the possibility of any supernatural event or providential action, and the denial of the possibility of any revelatory knowledge, eliminated the basic ingredients of a Jewish or Christian cosmology, and reinterpreted the basic written and oral traditions so that they no longer provided any essential data about man's relationship to G-D. Wolfson has said that Spinoza's uniqueness lies in being the first person in the Judeo-Christian world after Philo to construct a world view involving no axioms or principles based on revelation. Spinoza offered the basis for a thoroughly secular {untouched by Scriptural Theology} or naturalistic understanding of the universe. As Wolfson put it, "Benedictus is the first of the moderns; Baruch is the last of the medievals."

9.  Influence
Though Spinoza has been described by Novalis as a "God-intoxicated man," he was also described by Bayle as a "systematic atheist." His theory provides the foundations for a kind of atheism in which the historical interrelationship of G-D and man is denied, and in which G-D has no personality whatsoever. Of all of the critics of Judaism and Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries, Spinoza alone seems to have taken the radical and revolutionary steps of replacing religious tradition completely by rational, scientific reasoning, of making human religion a subject for scientific study, and of presenting a way of describing man and the universe totally apart from historical religious conceptions. Although Spinoza's views were immediately attacked, even by avant-garde thinkers like Bayle, he began to have an influence on biblical critics like Simon, on Deists, and on 18th-century French materialists and atheists. His more important modern influence began with the revival of his works in the German Enlightenment, first by Lessing, and then his adoption as a central thinker by the German Romantics. His ideas have since remained basic in naturalistic, atheistical thinking, and even been seen as precursors of Marxism. The image of Spinoza as one of the great heroes of free and modern thought, persecuted and fleeing from the reactionary synagogue, has become part of the hagiography of those who see a war between science and religion, in which the scientific side is the good one. Orthodox Judaism has continued to see him as a threat; the Amsterdam Jewish community has refused to be associated with any celebrations or commemorations connected with Spinoza, and some have claimed that if he had had a better understanding of Judaism he would not have defected. Many modern Jewish thinkers have seen in him the basis for a more universalistic modern philosophical view. He has provided one of the fundamental ideologies for the secular world. In modern times David Ben-Gurion has recommended that the herem against Spinoza be repealed.

[Richard H. Popkin] 
Ph.D.; Professor of Philosophy, the University of California, San Diego; 
Distinguished Professor, the Herbert H. Lehman College of the City of New York. 

10.  As Bible Scholar 
Spinoza's biblical criticism follows older starts, assembles them for the first time into a rationalized system, and prepares the way for all later critical works on the Bible up to the present. His biblical criticism is closely connected with his philosophical system and political position. Based on the knowledge of the Bible that he acquired in his childhood, and developing during long years of reflection, his critical views of the Bible were expressed in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, and also in a few letters and conversations. In opposition to the many misuses of the Bible that he observed in Judaism and Christianity, Spinoza developed what he saw to be the true method of biblical interpretation. Every person has the right to engage in biblical interpretation; it does not require supernatural illumination or special authority. Spinoza's supreme principle, indefatigably repeated by him, is that the Bible must be interpreted on its own terms. The method of the interpretation of the Bible is the same as the method of the interpretation of nature. "For, as the method of interpreting nature consists essentially in putting together a history [i.e., a methodical account] of nature, from which, as from sure data, we deduce the definitions of natural phenomena, so it is necessary for the interpretation of Scripture to work out a true history of Scripture, and from it, as from sure data and principles, to deduce through legitimate inference, the intention of the authors of Scripture. "The history of Scripture should consist of three aspects:

From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed August 25, 2003].

 1.  Biography of GRAETZ, HEINRICH (1817–1891),
       Jewish historian and Bible scholar.  {Graetz's Censure of Spinoza.} 
[1:1]  Graetz was born in Xions (Ksiaz), Poznan, the son of a butcher.
From 1831 to 1836 he pursued rabbinic studies in Wolstein (now Wolsztyn) near Poznan. There Graetz taught himself French and Latin and avidly read general literature. This brought him to a spiritual crisis, but reading S. R. Hirsch's "Nineteen Letters on Judaism" in 1836 restored his faith. He accepted Hirsch's invitation to continue his studies in the latter's home and under his guidance. Eventually their relationship cooled; he left Oldenburg in 1840 and worked as a private tutor in Ostrow. In 1842 he obtained special permission to study at Breslau University. As no Jew could obtain a Ph.D. at Breslau, Graetz presented his thesis to the University of Jena. This work was later published under the title Gnostizismus und Judentum (1846). By then Graetz had come under the influence of Z. Frankel, and it was he who initiated a letter of congratulations to Frankel for leaving the second Rabbinical Conference (Frankfort, 1845) in protest, after the majority had decided against prayers in Hebrew. Graetz now became a contributor to Frankel's Zeitschrift fuer die religioesen Interessen des Judentums, in which, among others, he published his programmatic "Konstruktion der juedischen Geschichte" (1846). 

[1:2]  Graetz failed to obtain a position as rabbi and preacher because of his lack of talent as an orator. After obtaining a teaching diploma, he was appointed head teacher of the orthodox religious school of the Breslau community, and in 1850, at Hirsch's recommendation, of the Jewish school of Lundenburg, Moravia. As a result of intrigues within the local community, he left Lundenburg in 1852 for Berlin, where during the following winter he lectured on Jewish history to theological students. He then began to contribute to the Monatsschrift fuer Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, which Frankel had founded in 1851 and which he later edited himself (1869–88). He also completed the fourth volume (dealing with the talmudic period and the first to be published) of his Geschichte der Juden von den aeltesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart ("History of the Jews...," 1853). In 1853 Graetz was appointed lecturer in Jewish history and Bible at the newly founded Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, and in 1869 was made honorary professor at the University of Breslau.

2.  Visit to Erez Israel 
[2:1] Between 1856 and 1870 eight further volumes of his Geschichte der Juden appeared, leaving only the first two volumes—dealing with the biblical period and the early Second Temple period—to be completed. These Graetz postponed until he could see Erez Israel with his own eyes. This he did and on his return published a memorandum which was highly critical of the social and educational conditions and of the system of Halukkah in particular. Graetz pleaded for a Jewish orphanage which was established at a later date, and continued to show an interest in the yishuv and its problems. After the Kattowitz Conference he joined the Hovevei Zion, but he resigned when it appeared to him that their activities had assumed a political character.

3.  Biblical Studies
[3:1]  The first volume of the History of the Jews (to the death of Solomon) appeared in 1874 and the two parts of the second volume (to the revolt of the Hasmoneans) in 1875–76. As to biblical research, Graetz's approach to the Pentateuch was traditional, but in his studies on Prophets and Hagiographa he occasionally adopted radical views. He asserted the existence of two Hoseas and three Zechariahs. His commentaries on Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes (the latter written according to him in the time of Herod) were published in 1871 and his commentary to Psalms in 1882. These were generally not favorably received, though by making use of the old Bible versions and of talmudic Hebrew he was able to obtain some valuable results. Toward the end of his life it was Graetz's intention to publish a critical text of the Bible, but this project did not materialize.

4.  Controversy with Treitschke 
Graetz played a role in the struggle of German Jews against the new wave of anti-Semitic attacks. In 1879 the nationalistic Prussian historian Treitschke violently attacked the 11th volume of the History of the Jews which dealt with recent times. He accused Graetz of hatred of Christianity, Jewish nationalism, and the lack of desire for the integration of Jews within the German nation (Ein Wort ueber unser Judentum, 1880). This led to a public debate in which both Jewish and non-Jewish writers participated. While most of them rejected Treitschke's virulent anti-Semitism, even Jewish writers dissociated themselves, with few exceptions, from Graetz's Jewish nationalism. Graetz in his reply in the press pointed out that in spite of their glorious past Jews had become interwoven in the life of Western Europe and that they were patriots in their respective countries. He rejected the accusation of hatred of Christianity. In a further attack Treitschke claimed that Graetz sought to establish a mixed Jewish-German culture in Germany, that he was a German-speaking "oriental" and a stranger to European-German culture, etc. Graetz retorted sharply, but assimilationist German Jewry showed its disapproval of Graetz by not inviting him to serve on the Jewish Historical Commission, set up in 1885 by the Union of Jewish Communities, with the purpose of publishing the sources for the history of the Jews in Germany. But a wider Jewish public, and the world of Jewish scholarship in particular, honored Graetz on the occasion of his 70th birthday; and a jubilee volume was published to celebrate the event. Graetz was invited to deliver the opening speech at the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition in London in 1887, which was published under the title of Historic Parallels in Jewish History (translated by J. Jacobs, 1887). In 1888 he was elected honorary member of the history department of the Academy of Madrid, a special distinction for a historian who had described the misdeeds of the Spanish Inquisition.

5.  Popular History of the Jews 
Between 1887 and 1889 an abridged edition of his great work was published in three volumes under the title Volkstuemliche Geschichte der Juden (1887–89; 10 editions to 1930; Eng. tr. 1934), which became one of the most widely read Jewish books in Germany. Graetz's main work became the basis and the source for the study of Jewish history, and its influence is felt to this day. It was translated into many languages (see below). The Hebrew adaptation-translation of S. P. Rabinowitz (with A. Harkavy, 1890–99) exerted much influence among the Hebrew-reading public of East European Jewry; so did the various English translations among English-speaking Jewry.

6.  The Historian
The foundations of the outlook of Graetz on the Jewish people and its history appear to have been laid during his association with S. R. Hirsch and under the influence of his ideas concerning the great mission of the Jewish people. In general, Graetz remained faithful to these ideas to the end of his days. Graetz had set out his concept of Jewish history in his Konstruktion der juedischen Geschichte (1846, 1936; Heb. tr. Darkhei ha-Historyah ha-Yehudit, 1969). He started with a number of Hegelian definitions, but he considered the basic ideas of Judaism as eternal, changing only their external forms. The ideal form is harmony of the political and religious elements. Therefore Graetz regarded Judaism as a unique politico-religious organism, "whose soul is the Torah and whose body is the Holy Land." As for the latest exilic period in Jewish history, Graetz agrees that theoretical-philosophical ideas have taken over from the national-political principle: "Judaism became science." He feels, however, that the process is not yet concluded and that "it is the task of Judaism's conception of G-D to prepare a religious state constitution" in which it would achieve self-realization, i.e., in it the harmony of the religious and political elements will be restored. Graetz's ideas on the nature of Jewish history underwent further development. In an essay entitled Die Verjuengung des juedischen Stammes (in Wertheimer-Komperts' Jahrbuch fuer Israeliten, 1863; repr. with notes by Zlocisty in Juedischer Volkskalender, Brno, 1903; Eng. tr. in I. Lesser's Occident (1865), 193 ff.) he rejected the belief in a personal Messiah, and maintained that the prophetic promises referred to the Jewish nation as a whole. In this period (1860s) Graetz under the influence of M. Hess' Rome and Jerusalem did not believe in the political revival of the Jews and in the possibility of the creation of a Jewish center in Erez Israel (see letters to Hess and the conclusion of his pamphlet Briefwechsel einer englischen Dame ueber Judentum und Semitismus, which he published anonymously in 1883; also under the title Gedanken einer Juedin ueber das Judentum..., 1885). The rediscovery of Graetz's diary and correspondence with Hess reveals the extent of his national and messianic fervor. He formulated the concept of the messianic people as the highest stage in the development of the messianic belief. From the Jewish people, endowed with special racial qualities of self-regeneration, will emerge the leadership for the final stage in universal history: eternal peace and redemption. But later he lost his original enthusiasm. Both in this pamphlet and in his essay "The Significance of Judaism for the Present and the Future" (in JQR, 1–2, 1889/90), he emphasized the historical and religious significance of continuous Jewish existence. He saw the main importance of Judaism in the ethical values which it was its task to impart to the world. Judaism is the sole bearer of monotheism; it is the only rational religion. Its preservation and the propagation of the sublime ethical truths to be found in Judaism, these are the tasks of the Jews in the world and this is the importance of Judaism for human culture.

7.  The "History."
Graetz's life work is his History of the Jews, and most of his other writings were merely preliminary studies or supplements to this gigantic structure. Even though attempts had been made before him by both Christians (Basnage) and Jews (Jost) to write a Jewish history, the work of Graetz was the first comprehensive attempt to write the history of the Jews as the history of a living people and from a Jewish point of view. With deep feeling, he describes the struggle of Jews and of Judaism for survival, their uniqueness, the sufferings of the Exile, and the courage of the martyrs, and in contrast, the cruelty of the enemies of Israel and its persecutors throughout the ages. Out of his appreciation of Judaism and his reaction against all that Christianity had perpetrated against Judaism, Graetz pointed out the failure of Christianity as religion and ethics to serve as a basis for a healthy society. He subjected its literary sources (the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul) to a radical, historical criticism. The writing of such a Jewish history in German for a public which in its vast majority identified itself with German nationalism and Christian culture was no easy task for a writer who did not have a very clear idea of the mission and the future of his nation. Graetz erred more than once on the side of inconsistency, excessive sentimentalism, and apologetics.

8. The Historiographer
From a historiographic point of view, the History of the Jews was a great and impressive achievement. Graetz made use of a vast number of hitherto neglected sources in several languages, though these were mainly literary sources; there was hardly any archival material on Jewish history available in his days. He adopted the philologic-critical method and succeeded in clarifying several obscure episodes in Jewish history. He described everything which appeared to him understandable and logical in the history of his people and emphasized the forces and the ideals which had assured its survival in periods of suffering and trial. Having studied the works of outstanding personalities, especially those with whom he felt a spiritual affinity (such as Maimonides), Graetz succeeded in painting a series of live historical portraits, stressing the role played by a particular figure in his epoch and in the history of the nation in general. His intuition as a historian was astonishing. Thus, for example, the documents discovered in the Cairo Genizah after the death of Graetz confirmed several of his surmises concerning the development of the piyyut {plural: piyyutim; a lyrical composition intended to embellish an obligatory prayer or any other religious ceremony, communal or private.} and the period of the geonim {The geonim were recognized by the Jews as the highest authority of instruction from the end of the sixth century or somewhat later to the middle of the 11th.}. But Graetz the historiographer had his faults as well, among which was his excessive and rather naive rationalism. He showed no understanding for mystical forces and movements such as Kabbalah and Hasidism, which he despised and considered malignant growths in the body of Judaism. Graetz was not acquainted with and perhaps, subconsciously, not interested in the history of the Jews of Poland, Russia, and Turkey, and in his attachment to Haskalah expressed contempt bordering on hatred for "the fossilized Polish talmudists." He refers to Yiddish as a ridiculous gibberish. The social and economic aspect of history is neglected by Graetz, and even political and legal factors were used by him only as a foil for the description of sufferings or of the achievements of leading personalities ("Leidens-und Gelehrtengeschichte"). Graetz wrote in a lively and captivating though often over-rhetorical, and partisan, style.

9.  Critics
In spite of his faults Graetz's work had a tremendous effect on Jews everywhere, but he was not short of critics either. S. R. Hirsch voiced strong criticism as early as the publication of the first volume in his Jeschurun (1885–86), calling it "the phantasies of superficial combinations." The breach between teacher and pupil was now complete, and Graetz took his revenge by some scathing criticism of Hirsch in the last volume of his history. From the opposite direction came Geiger's verdict that the work contained "stories but not history" (Juedische Zeitschrift, 4 (1866), 145ff.; cf. also Steinschneider's censure in HB, 3 (1860), 103f.; 4 (1861), 84; 6 (1863), 73ff.). Graetz replied to his contemporary critics in periodicals and in subsequent volumes of his history.

10.  The "History":
editions and translations 
[10:1]  The great number of editions and translations (also of single volumes: cf. Brann, in MGWJ, 61 (1917), 481–91) of the Geschichte speak their own language of success. The various volumes were published in up to five editions until World War I. Several volumes of the last edition (11 vols., 1890–1909) were edited and annotated by M. Brann and others. The best known Hebrew translation is by S. P. Rabinowitz (1890–99). Yiddish translations appeared in 1897–98, 1913, and 1915–17. English translations:

[10:4]  Most of Graetz's other published work was preparatory to the main "History," and appeared in the Monatsschrift and in the Jahresberichte of the Breslau Seminary. On the occasion of Graetz's 100th birthday anniversary the Monatsschrift (vol. 61 (1917), 321 ff.) and the Neue Juedische Monatshefte (vol. 2 nos. 3–4, 1917/18) issued a series of studies on the life and works of the historian. A number of Graetz's essays, his early diaries (see Brann, in MGWJ, 62 (1918), 231–65), and some letters, etc. have been published in Hebrew (Darkhei ha-Historyah ha-Yehudit (1969), tr. by J. Tolkes, introd. by S. Ettinger and biography by R. Michael).

[Shmuel Ettinger]
Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Jewish History,
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed September 21, 2003].

WOLFSON, HARRY AUSTRYN (1887–1974), {WikipediA}
historian of philosophy.

[1]  Born in Belorussia,
 Wolfson received his early education at the Slobodka yeshivah. Emigrating to the United States in 1903, he studied at Harvard and from 1912 to 1914 held a traveling fellowship from Harvard, which enabled him to study and do research in Europe. In 1915 he was appointed to the Harvard faculty, becoming professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy in 1925. From 1923 to 1925 he also served as professor at the Jewish Institute of Religion. Wolfson received many academic honors for his pioneering researches. He was a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, serving as its president from 1935 to 1937, and a fellow of the Mediaeval Academy of America. He was president of the American Oriental Society in 1957–58, and also held membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1958 he was awarded the prize of the American Council of Learned Societies. In 1965 the American Academy for Jewish Research published the Harry Austryn Wolfson Jubilee Volume (in English and Hebrew) in his honor. 

[2]  Wolfson—whose writings are marked by a mastery of the philosophic literature in the several languages in which it was written, penetrating analysis, clarity of exposition, and felicity of style—wrote many books and articles. (A bibliography, appearing in the Jubilee Volume (Eng. sec., pp. 39–49), contains 116 items, which were published between 1912 and 1963.) His early articles, several of which dealt with issues in the philosophies of Crescas and Spinoza, were followed by his first book, Crescas' Critique of Aristotle, which, though completed in 1918, was not published until 1929. The volume contains a critical edition of part of Crescas' Or Adonai (the section dealing with the 25 propositions which appear in the introduction to the second part of Maimonides' Guide), an exemplary English translation, and an introduction; but of special importance are the copious notes which take up more than half of the volume. In these notes Wolfson discusses, with great erudition, the origin and development of the terms and arguments discussed by Crescas and he clarifies Crescas' often enigmatic text. In the introduction (pp. 24–29) Wolfson describes the "hypothetico-deductive method of textual study" which guided him in all his works (see introductions to his other books). Akin to the method used to study the Talmud known as pilpul {In the talmudic period the term pilpul was applied to the logical distinctions through which apparent contradictions and textual difficulties were straightened out by means of reasoning, leading to a more penetrating understanding and conceptual analysis.}, this method rests on the assumptions that any serious author writes with such care and precision that "every term, expression, generalization or exception is significant not so much for what it states as for what it implies," and that the thought of any serious author is consistent. Hence it becomes the task of the interpreter to clarify what a given author meant, rather than what he said, and he must resolve apparent contradictions by means of harmonistic interpretation. All this requires great sensitivity to the nuances and implications of the text and familiarity with the literature on which a given author drew. Like the scientific method, the "hypothetico-deductive" method proceeds by means of hypotheses which must be proved or disproved, and it must probe the "latent processes" of an author's thought. 

[3]  The investigation of the background of Crescas' thought involved Wolfson in an intensive study of the commentaries on Aristotle's works written by the Islamic philosopher Averroes. However, most of these commentaries existed only in manuscripts, and so Wolfson proposed the publication of a Corpus Commentarionum Averrois in Aristotelem (in: Speculum, 6 (1931), 412–27; revised version, ibid., 38 (1963), 88–104). This corpus was to consist of critical editions of the Arabic originals, and of the Hebrew and Latin translations; and it was to contain English translations and explanatory commentaries by the editors. The Mediaeval Academy of America undertook to sponsor this project and Wolfson was appointed its editor in chief. By 1971, nine volumes of the series had appeared.

[4]  In 1934 Wolfson's two-volume The Philosophy of Spinoza appeared. Applying the "hypothetico-deductive" method, Wolfson undertook to unfold "the latent processes" of Spinoza's reasoning. Following the arrangement of Spinoza's Ethics, Wolfson explained the content and structure of Spinoza's thought and discussed extensively the antecedents on which he drew {Samples}. By the time he had completed his Spinoza, Wolfson had conceived the monumental task of investigating "the structure and growth of philosophic systems from Plato to Spinoza," working, as he put it, "forwards, sideways, and backwards." As work on this project progressed, he continued to publish articles. His next book, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, appeared in two volumes in 1947 (19482, 19623). Philo had until then been considered an eclectic or a philosophic preacher, but Wolfson undertook to show that behind the philosophic utterances scattered throughout Philo's writings there lay a philosophic system. More than that, he held that Philo was the founder of religious philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and that "Philonic" philosophy dominated European thought for 17 centuries until it was destroyed by Spinoza, "the last of the medievals and the first of the moderns."

[5]  After publishing more articles, Wolfson in 1954 completed another two-volume work, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers (19642). However, he decided to publish only the first volume, which appeared in 1956. Following the pattern established in his Philo, but allowing for differences occasioned by Christian teachings, Wolfson devoted this volume to faith, the Trinity, and the incarnation, discussing not only the orthodox but also the heretical views.

[6]  In 1961 a collection of Wolfson's articles appeared
under the title Religious Philosophy: A Group of Essays.

[Arthur Hyman]
Ph.D., Rabbi; Professor of General and Jewish Philosophy, 
Yeshiva University, New York 

From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed September 21, 2003].

 EINSTEIN, ALBERT (1879–1955), physicist, 
discoverer of the theory of relativity, and Nobel Prize winner.

[1]  Born in the German town of Ulm, son of the proprietor of a small electrochemical business, Albert Einstein spent his early youth in Munich. He detested the military discipline of the German schools and joined his parents, leaving school after they moved to Italy. His interest in mathematics and physics started at an early age, and he avidly read books on mathematics. Unable to obtain an instructorship at the Zurich Polytechnic Institute, from which he graduated at the age of 21, he took a post at the patent office in Berne, having become in the meantime a Swiss citizen. This position left him ample time to carry on his own research. In 1905 he published three brilliant scientific papers, one dealing with the "Brownian motion," the second one with the "photoelectric effect," and the third on the "Special theory of relativity." It was the last one which was to bring his name before the public. He demonstrated that motion is relative and that physical laws must be the same for all observers moving relative to each other, as well as his famous E =mc2 equation showing that mass is equivalent to energy. Ironically, however, when he received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921 it was for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Immediately after the publication of that paper Einstein was offered a professorship at the University of Zurich which he at first refused, having become fond of his job at the patent office. In 1910 he joined the German University in Prague, where he held the position of professor ordinarius in physics, the highest academic rank. Despite his absorption in his scholarly pursuits he could not fail to notice the political strife and quarrels between the rival feelings of nationalism, and felt great sympathy for the Czechs and their aspirations. In 1912 Einstein returned to Switzerland, where he taught at the Polytechnic, the same place to which he had come as a poor student in 1896. His friend and colleague, Max Planck, succeeded in obtaining for him a professorship at the Prussian Academy of Science in Berlin, a research institute where Einstein could devote all his time to research. In 1916, amid a world in the throes of World War I, Einstein made another fundamental contribution to science contained in Die Grundlagen der allgemeinen Relativitaetstheorie (Relativity, the Special and the General Theory, a Popular Exposition, 1920). In this theory he generalized the principle of relativity to all motion, uniform or not. The presence of large masses produces a gravitational field, which will result in a "warping" of the underlying (four-dimensional) space. That field will act on objects, such as planets or light rays, which will be deflected from their paths. His prediction of the deflection of starlight by the gravitational field of the sun was borne out by the expedition at the time of a solar eclipse in 1919. When the results of the solar eclipse observations became known to the general public, Einstein’s name became a household word. He was offered, but refused, great sums of money for articles, pictures and advertisements as his fame mounted. During the early years after World War I he worked for the League of Nations Intellectual Cooperation Organization and became a familiar figure on public platforms speaking on social problems as well as his Theory of Relativity. He became more and more disappointed by the misuse of sciences in the hands of man. "In the hands of our generation these hard-won achievements are like a razor wielded by a child of three. The possession of marvelous means of production has brought care and hunger instead of freedom." In 1932, Einstein accepted an invitation to spend the winter term at the California Institute of Technology. By January 1933, Hitler had come to power. Einstein promptly resigned from his position at the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences and never returned to Germany. Many positions were offered him but he finally accepted a professorship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, and later became an American citizen. During World War II secret news reached the U.S. physicists that the German uranium project was progressing. Einstein, when approached by his friend Szilard, signed a letter to President Roosevelt pointing out the feasibility of atomic energy. It was that letter which sparked the Manhattan Project and future developments of atomic energy. However, Einstein, was opposed to the use of the atomic bomb, as were many other scientists, and wrote another letter which, however, arrived only after Roosevelt's death. In spite of his dislike for engaging in public affairs Einstein became chairman of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists and urged the outlawing of the atomic and hydrogen bombs. During the McCarthy period Einstein advised scientists to refuse to testify before the Congressional Committee on Un-American Affairs. Despite his advanced age he continued to work on the "Unified Field Theory" which attempted as a first step to unify gravitation and electromagnetism into one theory. It is impossible to assess whether he would have succeeded in this momentous task, since he died before its completion.

[2]  Einstein was not only one of the greatest scientists of all time but also a generous person who took time and effort to help others and spoke out openly for his beliefs and principles. He never forgot that he had been a refugee himself and lent a helping hand to the many who asked for his intervention. The man who refused to write popular articles for his own benefit devoted hours to raising money for refugees and other worthwhile causes. Einstein was a Jew not only by birth but also by belief and action. He took an active part in Jewish affairs, wrote extensively, and attended many functions in order to raise money for Jewish causes. He was first introduced to Zionism during his stay in Prague, where Jewish intellectuals gathered in each other's homes talking about their dream of a Jewish Homeland. He and Weizmann had become acquainted, and, despite different outlook—Weizmann regarded Einstein as an unpractical idealist and Einstein in turn thought Weizmann was too much of a "Realpolitiker"—remained allies and friends. In 1921 Weizmann asked Einstein to join him on a fund-raising tour of America to buy land in Palestine and seek aid for the Hebrew University. Einstein readily agreed, since his interest in the University had been growing. The tour was highly successful. He visited Palestine and was greatly impressed by what he saw. Einstein appeared before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946 and entered a strong plea for a Jewish Homeland. When the State of Israel was established he hailed the event as the fulfillment of an ancient dream, providing conditions in which the spiritual and cultural life of a Hebrew society could find free expression. After Weizmann's death he was asked by Ben-Gurion to stand as a candidate for the presidency of the State of Israel, which he declined "being deeply touched by the offer but not suited for the position." When he went to the hospital for the illness which proved to be his last he took with him the notes he had made for the television address he was to give on Israel's seventh Independence Day. The notes were expanded into an article which is included in Einstein on Peace (ed. by O. Nathan and H. Norden, 1960). Among his works are: About Zionism (ed. and tr. by L. Simon, 1930), speeches and letters; Mein Weltbild (1934; The World As I See It, 1934); Evolution of Physics (with L. Infeld, 1938); Out of My Later Years (1950); and The Meaning of Relativity (1921, 1956).
[Gerald E. Tauber] 
Ph.D.; Professor of Mathematical Pyhsics, 
Tel Aviv University 

[3]  Among subsequent volumes on Einstein are R. W. Clark, Einstein, The Life and Times; B. Hoffmann (with H. Dukas), Albert Einstein, Creator and Rebel (1973); and A. Moszkowski, Conversations with Einstein (first published, 1970; republished London, 1973).

[4]  The centenary of Einstein's birth was celebrated in a number of ways. The Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton proclaimed the year 1979 as the National Einstein Centennial Celebration, which opened with a six-day scientific symposium devoted to the historical context and present importance of Einstein's work.

[5]  The Institute, jointly with the Smithsonian Institution, also sponsored a comprehensive exhibit at the National Museum of History and Technology at Washington. An Einstein commemorative stamp was issued on the day of the centenary, March 14th.

Einstein's connection with the Hebrew University
which dates from even before its formal opening was commemorated in Jerusalem by an international symposium held on March 14th and organized jointly by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Hebrew University, the Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation and the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, under the auspices of the President of the State and included a lecture by Sir Isaiah Berlin, as well as a concert by Isaac Stern.

[7]  A statue of Einstein for the lawn of the American National Academy of Science was commissioned from Robert Berks for the centenary year.

[Editorial Staff Encyclopaedia Judaica]


Book 32; Stuart Hampshire's "Spinoza"; Penguin Books 1951; ISBN: 0140202536.  
 {I have changed (inconsistently) the spellings of God to reflect, in my opinion, Spinoza's hypothesis.
Endnote 1D3 - From Book 32; Hampshire:22—Philosophical Background: 
Spinoza and Descartes—Substance: 

[1]  Cartesianism—construed not as a set of particular doctrines or propositions, but as a whole vocabulary and a method of argument—dominated philosophical and scientific thought in seventeenth-century Europe (though less in England than elsewhere), as Aristotelianism, similarly construed, had dominated Europe in previous centuries. Spinoza had steeped himself in Descartes' philosophy, and his first written work was a methodical exposition of it (Metaphysical Thoughts). But at a very early stage, and even before he wrote his exposition of it, he had rejected its conclusions and had proceeded in his own thought far beyond it, having discovered in Descartes what seemed to him radical incoherences; he saw, or thought he saw, demonstrable contradictions in Descartes' conceptions of Substance, of the relation of Thought and Extension, of the relation between G-D and the created universe, of Free-will and Necessity, of Error, and lastly, of the distinction between Intellect and the Imagination. Descartes seemed to have stopped short in developing his own doctrines to their extreme logical conclusions, partly perhaps because he foresaw some at least of the uncomfortable moral and theological consequences which must ensue; he was a rationalist who not only remained undisturbed within the Catholic Church, but even provided the Church with new
armour to protect its essential doctrines
against page 23 the dangerous implications of the new mathematical physics and the new method in philosophy. Descartes was not rigidly consistent in maintaining the distinction between Intellect and the Imagination, and even speaks of Imagination as essential to mathematical reasoning, though it is the source of confusion in metaphysics; yet he urges the application of mathematical reasoning to metaphysics. Perhaps his crucial hesitation is whether our idea of God can be purely intellectual or must be in part imaginative -- that is, whether G-D's Nature can be in any sense understood unless we can describe his attributes in terms which derive their meaning from ordinary experience. If the use of ordinary terms is essential to understanding, our conception of God must be, in part at least, an anthropomorphic one; but if all images and so all anthropomorphism are removed, the word 'God' loses many of its traditional Christian connotations, and the believer is left, as Spinoza showed, with an utterly abstract and impersonal Deity. Spinoza made the distinction between Intellect and Imagination, between pure logical thinking and the confused association of ideas, one of the foundations of his system; unlike Descartes, he throughout applied the distinction rigorously and accepted every consequence of it. At every stage in the Ethics, and in reply to objections in his correspondence, he insists that his words, and particularly his words about G-D and his attributes, must never be understood in their vulgar and figurative sense, but only in the special sense given to them in his definitions. He considered almost everything which
page 24 had been written and said about G-D, and about his creation of the Universe, as meaningless, unphilosophical men being incapable of conceiving G-D clearly; for they are by training incapable of understanding what they cannot imagine. Any image or mental picture must be a projection of our own sense-experience; we can only form a picture from elements of our experience. But G-D essentially and by his Nature, is wholly outside our experience, and cannot be properly described by imaginative analogy with anything within our experience; he must be conceived by an effort of pure thought {therefore it is necessary to posit it, and test it for its Cash Value, like gravity}. Similarly, all the other terms which we use in our philosophical thinking, that is, in our attempt to understand the Universe as a whole, must be carefully examined to ensure that they really do represent to us clearly-defined intellectual conceptions, as opposed to confused images or pictures derived from our sense-experience.

[2]  If therefore Descartes was a rationalist, in the sense that he advocated the solution of all problems of natural knowledge by the application of the mathematical method of pure reasoning, Spinoza was doubly a rationalist in this sense; in fact no other philosopher has ever insisted more uncompromisingly that all problems, whether metaphysical, moral or scientific, must be formulated and solved as purely intellectual problems, as if they were theorems in geometry. Principally for this reason he wrote both his early exposition of Descartes' philosophy and his own great definitive work, the Ethics, in the geometrical manner, as a succession of propositions with supporting page 25 proofs, lemmas and corollaries. He thus eliminated from the presentation of his philosophy the concealed means of persuasion and of engaging the imagination of the reader which are part of ordinary prose-writing; he wished the true philosophy to be presented in a form which was, as nearly as possible, as objective and as free from appeals to the imagination as is Euclid's Elements. He wished to be entirely effaced as individual and author, being no more than the mouthpiece of pure Reason.

Endnote 1P32:6c - From Book 32; Hampshire:69-71EXTENSION AND ITS MODES:
Motion and Rest:  
{I have changed (inconsistently) the spellings of God to reflect, in my opinion, Spinoza's hypothesis.}

[1]  Everything which exists in the Universe is to be conceived as a 'modification' or particular differentiation of the unique all-inclusive substance, whose nature is revealed solely under the two infinite attributes, Thought and Extension. But we can and must distinguish the all-pervasive features of the Universe, which can be immediately deduced from the nature of these attributes themselves, page 70 from those which cannot be so immediately deduced. The modes or features of Reality which seem essential to the constitution of these two infinite and eternal attributes must themselves be infinite and eternal; they are therefore distinguished by Spinoza as the immediate infinite and eternal modes, the word 'mode' being used for anything which is a state of substance. The modes or states of substance can be graded in an order of logical dependence, beginning with the immediate infinite and eternal modes as necessary and universal features of the Universe, and descending to the finite modes which are limited, perishing and transitory differentiations of Nature. The transitory, finite modes can only be understood, and their essence or nature deduced, as effects of the infinite and eternal modes, and they are in this sense dependent on the modes of higher order. The infinite and eternal mode under the attribute of Extension is called Motion-and-Rest. To understand the significance of this phrase one must again refer to Descartes' unsolved metaphysical difficulties, which were always a deciding, influence in the formation of Spinoza's doctrines. Descartes' conception of the physical world as Extension had left physical change or motion accounted for as the effect of the creator's will; God, who was transcendent and external to the world he had created, had implanted motion in it. Spinoza, having rejected the notion of a creator external to his own creation as being self-contradictory, is once again in the situation of representing as a necessary feature of Nature, and as immanent in the system, what Descartes had represented as a fiat of God's page 71 will. If the hypothesis of a transcendent God implanting motion in the system of extended bodies is impossible, then it will be an intrinsic characteristic of the extended or spatial world that everything within it is constituted of particular proportions of motion and rest; motion will be essential to, and inseparable from, the nature and constitution of extended things. The proportions of motion and rest within the system as a whole will be constant, since there can be no external cause to explain any change in the system; but within the subordinate parts of the system the proportions of motion and rest are constantly changing in the interaction of these parts among each other. 

[2]  It seems natural to translate the now unfamiliar phrase 'Motion-and-Rest' as 'energy'; one can then represent Spinoza as in effect saying that the extended world is to be conceived as a self-contained, and all-inclusive, system of interactions in which the total amount of energy is constant; and, secondly, he is in effect saying that all the changing qualities and configurations of extended bodies can be adequately represented solely as transmissions or exchanges of energy within this single system. Spinoza's denial that an act of creation by a transcendent creator is logically possible could be translated as a denial of the possibility of energy entering into the system from outside; the physical world must be conceived as complete in itself, self-generating and self-maintaining. Commentators have generally remarked that Spinoza, in making motion-and-rest the fundamental concept to be used in describing the spatial or physical world, in fact anticipated more closely
page 72 than Descartes the future structure of mathematical physics; he seems to have envisaged physical explanation as being necessarily dynamical in form, with physical things represented as ultimately no more than configurations of force and energy. But it must be remembered that such interpretations, although incidentally illuminating, are not to be taken as direct and literal translations; for concepts such as force and energy, as they occur in modern physical theories, are not metaphysical concepts; they can ultimately be interpreted, however indirectly, in terms of equations verified by actual experiments and observations. Spinoza is deducing the necessity of motion-and-rest as a primary characteristic of the extended world without any reference to convenience in summarizing actual experimental results; he is appealing only to the strictly logical implications of his prior notions of a self-creating substance conceived as an extended thing (res extensa). But the deductive system which is his metaphysics is so much the more worth studying if, following in its own logic, it results in a programme of scientific explanation which in outline accords with the actual methods of later science. This is certainly one of the tests of the adequacy of a metaphysical system {Disclaimer}.  

Endnote E2:16:3c2 - From Book 32; Hampshire:135-7AffectusEmotion:    E2:2P24-32  

[1]  ... The word affectus, although it comes the nearest to the word 'emotion' in the familiar sense, represents the whole modification of the person, mental page 136 and physical. The 'affection' is a passion (in Spinoza's technical sense) in so far as the cause of the modification or 'affection' does not lie within myself, and it is an 'action' or active emotion in so far as the cause does lie within myself; this is another way of saying that any 'affection', of which the mental equivalent is not an adequate idea, must be a passive emotion {Durant:646}; for an adequate idea is an idea which follows necessarily from the idea which preceded it. I am active in so far as I am thinking logically, that is, in so far as the succession of ideas constituting my mind is a self-contained and self-generating series; I am passive, in so far as my succession of ideas can only be explained in terms of ideas which are not members of the series constituting my mind; for in this latter case the ideas constituting my mind must be, at least in part, the effects of external causes. My ordinary hates and loves, desires and aversions, succeed each other without any internal logical connexion between the ideas annexed to them.  

[2] This argument is at first difficult to grasp because we do not now use the word 'cause' as Spinoza and other philosophers of his time used it; it is strange to us to identify the cause of a certain idea in my mind with the logical ground from which this idea can be deduced; but the distinction between active and passive emotions, and indeed the whole of Spinoza's moral theory, depends upon this identification. To re-state: I experience an active emotion, if and only if the idea which is the psychical accompaniment of the 'affection' is logically deducible from the previous idea constituting my mind
{example}; only if it is so deducible, can I be page 137 said to have an adequate idea of the cause of my emotion. If the idea annexed to the emotion is not deducible from a previous idea in my mind, it follows that the emotion or 'affection' must be the effect of an external cause, and that I am in this sense passive in respect of it. As the ideas constituting my mind are the psychical equivalents of the modifications of my body, I can only have adequate knowledge of the causes of those of my 'affections' which are not the effects of external causes. If the cause of the 'affection' is external to me, it follows that it involves an inadequate idea, and the converse must also be true; therefore, to say that the cause of the modification is external to me is equivalent to saying that it involves incomplete knowledge and an inadequate idea. In so far as I am a free agent, unaffected by external causes, I necessarily have adequate or scientific knowledge, and the converse must also be true; only the intelligent man can (logically) be free, and only the free man can (logically) be intelligent. But human beings, as finite modes, cannot in principle be completely free and unaffected by external causes; human freedom must be a matter of degree. Spinoza's method in the last three parts of the Ethics is to contrast the actual and normal conditions of human servitude with the humanly unattainable ideal of permanent and perfect freedom.  

Endnote E3 Title - From Book 32; Hampshire:141FREEDOM AND MORALITY:
Freud's libido and Spinoza's conatus: 

[1]  The transition from the normal life of passive emotion and confused ideas to the free man's life of active emotion and adequate ideas must be achieved, if at all, by a method in some respects not unlike the methods of modern psychology; the cure, or method of salvation, consists in making the patient more self-conscious, and in making him perceive the more or less unconscious struggle within himself to preserve his own internal adjustment and balance; he must be brought to realize that it is this continuous struggle which expresses itself in his pleasures and pains, desires and aversions. Hatred and love, jealousy and pride, and the other emotions which he feels, can be shown to him as the compensations necessary to restore loss of 'psychical {pertaining to mental phenomena} energy'. There is an evident parallel between Freud's conception of libido {sexual instinct or drive} and Spinoza's conatus; the importance of the parallel, which is rather more than superficial, is that both philosophers conceive emotional life as based on a universal unconscious drive or tendency to self-preservation; both maintain that any frustration of this drive must manifest itself in our conscious life as some painful disturbance. Every person is held to dispose of a certain quantity of psychical energy, a counterpart (for Spinoza at Ieast) of his physical energy, and conscious pleasures and pains: are the counterparts of the relatively uninhabited expression and frustration of this energy. Consequently, for Spinoza no less than for Freud, moral praise and blame of the objects of our particular desires and the sources of our pleasures, are irrelevent superstitions; we can free ourselves only by an understanding of the true causes of our desires, page 142 which must then change their direction. According to both Freud and Spinoza, it is the first error of conventional moralists to find moral and à priori reasons for repressing our natural energy, our libido {sexual instinct or drive} or conatus; they both condemn puritanism and asceticism in strikingly similar tones and for roughly similar reasons. Asceticism is only one expression among others of the depression of vitality and the frustration of the libido or conatus; however we may deceive ourselves, our feelings and behaviour, even what we distinguish as self-denial, can always be explained as the effects of drives which are independent of our conscious will. Consequently both Spinoza and Freud represent moral problems as essentially clinical problems, which can only be confused by the use of epithets of praise and blame, and by emotional attitudes of approval and disapproval. There can in principle be only one way of achieving sanity and happiness; the way is to come to understand the causes of our own states of mind. Vice, if the word is to be given a meaning, is that diseased state of the organism, in which neither mind nor body functions freely and efficiently. Vice, in this sense, always betrays itself to the agent as that depression of vitality which is pain; vice and pain are necessarily connected, as are virtue and pleasure; this is another way of saying that, in Spinoza's sense of the word, 'virtue is its own reward'. Pleasure, in this primary sense of the felt tone of efficiency of the organism, is distinguished by Spinoza from mere local stimulation, which he calls 'titillation' (titillatio). When we ordinarily speak of pleasure or pleasures, we are referring only to these temporary page 143 and partial stimulations; and because of this use of the word it appears paradoxical to assert a necessary connexion between virtue and pleasure; but in this contest pleasure (laetitia) is contrasted, as the organism's sense of entire well-being, with pleasure in the more common sense of a temporary excitement. This contrast between a sense of total well-being and a mere temporary stimulation has a long philosophical history from Plato onwards; perhaps it corresponds to something in our experience which is reflected in the ordinary association of the words 'happiness' (laetitia) and 'pleasure' (titillatio). But I suspect that all such precise labelling and classifying is irrelevant for anyone who would really explore the varieties of human experience.

[2]  Other points of comparison could profitably be found between the two great Jewish thinkers, Freud and Spinoza, each so isolated, austere and uncompromising in his own original ways of thought. The points of detailed resemblance between them follow from their common central conception of the libido
{sexual instinct or drive} or conatus, the natural drive for self-preservation {conatus} and the extension of power and energy {libido}, as being the clue to the understanding of all forms of personal life. Neither crudely suggested that all men consciously pursue their own pleasure or deliberately seek to extend their own power; but both insisted that people must be studied scientifically, as organisms within Nature, and that only by such study could men be enabled to understand the causes of their own infirmity. Consequently both have been attacked for insisting on an entirely page 144  objective and clinical study of human feeling and behaviour. Lastly, there is a similarity, evident but more difficult to make precise, in the grave, prophetic, scrupulously, objective tone of voice in which they quietly undermine all the established prejudices of popular and religious morality: there is the same quietly ruthless insistence that we must look in every case for the natural causes of human unhappiness, as we would look for the causes of the imperfections of any other natural object; moral problems cannot be solved by appeals to emotion and prejudice, which are always the symptoms of ignorance. They have both provoked the hatred which visits anyone who would regard man as a natural object and not as a supernatural agent, an who is concerned impassively to understand the nature of human imbecility, rather than to condemn it. In reading Spinoza it must not be forgotten that he was before all things concerned to point the way to human freedom through understanding and natural knowledge.

Endnote G:Never-the-less - From Book 32; Hampshire:145-9FREEDOM AND MORALITY: 
Good & Bad; Perfect & Imperfect: 

[1]  Spinoza can allow {never-the-less} that the moral epithets 'good' and 'bad' are popularly and intelligibly used in this quasi-objective sense; so far they have the same use as words like 'pleasant' or 'admirable'; they indicate the appetites and repugnances of the user, or what happen to be the tastes of most normal men. But it is important to notice that in this popular use the epithets must not be interpreted as referring to the intrinsic properties of the things or persons called good or bad; they refer rather to the constitution and reactions of the persons applying the epithets. But there is a natural extension of this popular use of the words 'good' and 'bad'. We naturally come to speak of 'normal' men and the 'normal' constitution of man; in talking of page I46 'man' in the abstract, we are led to form a universal notion, or vague composite image, of what a man should be, or of the type or model of a man. We are then inclined to think of this type or ideal of a man as we think of an ideal house or an ideal theatre; objects which are created by human beings with a definite purpose, artifacts such as houses or theatres, can properly be said to conform more or less closely to a norm or ideal of what a house should be; we can judge how far any particular house satisfies the purposes for which houses in general are designed. But we are led into confusion when, having formed an abstract universal notion of a natural kind, we come to think of this universal notion as representing the ideal or perfect specimen of the natural kind; we form in this way a general notion of what a man should be, as we form a general notion of what a house should be; and we think of men, as of houses, as more or less perfect in so far as they conform to the ideal. The misleading implication in this way of thinking is that human beings, and other natural kinds, are designed with a purpose. To say of a house that it is imperfect in some respect is to make a statement to which a definite meaning can be attached by an objective test; the statement is tested by a comparison of the actual house with what was projected in the design of it. To say of a man that he is imperfect in some respect looks as if it were to make a statement which is testable by the same procedure, and which looks as if it had a similarly definite sense; but this is wholly misleading, since we must not suppose that human beings, or any page 147 other natural objects, have been designed for any purpose; {The only purpose is for all things to perpetuate itself (conatus).} consequently it makes no sense to think of them as fulfilling, or failing to fulfil, a purpose or design. In thinking of particular men as in some respect perfect or imperfect, or as (in this sense) good or bad specimens of their kind, we can only be comparing them with some abstract general notion, which has formed itself in our minds, of what a man should be; and this general notion has no objective significance, but arises only out of our own particular associations; it can be no more than an arbitrary projection of our own tastes, interests and experience. Whenever we hear natural objects discussed as though they were artifacts, we have the most sure evidence of theological superstition; Spinoza will not allow any mention of design or of final causes in the study Nature.

[2] Spinoza's destructive analysis of the basis of ordinary moral judgments, and of the standards that they imply, follows directly from the basic propositions of his logic.

[3]  Considered scientifically and in the light of systematic knowledge, nothing can be said to be in itself morally good page 149 or bad, morally perfect or imperfect; everything is what it is as a consequence of natural laws; to say that someone is morally bad is, in popular usage, to imply that he could have been better; this implication is always and necessarily false, and is always a reflexion of incomplete knowledge. Spinoza can allow no sense in which 'good' and 'bad' can be applied to persons which is not also a sense in which the words are applicable to any other natural objects, whether brutes or things. It is this disturbing contention which is the core of the metaphysical issue between determinism and free-will, and this issue we must now consider. 


From Professor James Hall's Lecture 24 - TB2:146—Teleological Argument 


Endnote G:Einstein - From Book 32; Hampshire:202-3—TTP: Politics and Religion:


....., 'the intelligent individual's first aim must be to persuade others to be equally intelligent in the pursuit of their own security {Hobbes}; he has a direct interest in freeing others from the passive emotions and from the blind superstitions which lead to war and to the suppression of free thought. But in fact the enlightened and the free are always a minority, and men in general are guided by irrational hopes and fears, and not by pure reason. For these reasons Spinoza, anticipating Voltaire and the philosophical Deists {belief in the existence of a G-D on the evidence of reason and nature, with rejection of supernatural revelation} of the next century, admits that popular religions are useful, and that with their childish systems of rewards and penalties {pedagogy} they are properly designed to make the ignorant peaceful and virtuous; to the uneducated and unreasoning, morality cannot be taught as a necessity of reason; it must be presented to them imaginatively as involving simple rewards and penalties. The free man therefore will criticize Christian doctrine or orthodox Judaism or any other religious dogma, first, when it is represented as philosophical truth, secondly, on purely pragmatic grounds, if it in fact leads its votaries to be troublesome in their actual behaviour {terrorism, superstition}; but to judge and condemn religious faiths {Mark Twain} by purely rational standards is to misconceive their function. The various religious myths of the world are essentially the presentation in imaginative and picturesque terms of more or less elementary moral truths {and an attempt to achieve peace-of-mind}. The great majority of mankind, who are capable only of the lowest grade of knowledge, will only understand, and be emotionally impressed by, myths which appeal directly to their imagination; the abstractions of page 203 purely logical argument mean nothing to them. They cannot understand what is meant by the perfection and omnipotence {power, will} of G-D, as a metaphysician understands these ideas; they can understand only in the sense that they may imagine a Being like themselves, but very powerful and very good; they need a story in anthropomorphic terms, and this the popular religions provide.

Endnote TTP - From Book 32; Hampshire:203-5—TTP: Politics and Religion:

{Scriptural Theology} Religious Faith and Philosophy:

The dividing-line between religious faith and philosophical truth was, after metaphysics itself, Spinoza's greatest interest; it was a problem which not only involved the whole intellectual history of the Jewish people; it had also dominated his personal life and his own adjustment to the society into which he was born. The Theological-Political Treatise lays the foundation of a rational interpretation of the Jewish and Christian religions, and particularly of the Bible; it lays down principles of interpretation of the Bible which were to be further developed with the advent of the Higher Criticism in the nineteenth century. Spinoza avoids many of the over-simplifications and crudities of later rationalist thought, and shows a most precocious {prematurely developed} understanding of the social function of religious myth. It is almost unnecessary to say that he nowhere shows the slightest personal or nationalistic bias or bitterness, in spite of his excommunication and of his inherited memories of centuries of persecution and fanaticism. Whether he is writing of the nature of prophecy, of miracles, of the allegedly divine origin of Jewish law, or of G-D's special relation to the Jews, he writes always from the standpoint of pure reason, without personal attachments page 204 to any cause or nation, and he applies his irony impartially to the logical evasions of all parties. The non-Jewish reader may forget the background of centuries of Rabbinical interpretation of the Bible and of Jewish history and myth; Spinoza in the Theological-Political Treatise is not only a founder of European rationalism, but also one of a long line of Jewish commentators. The tradition of Jewish orthodoxy had been always stricter and more passionately upheld than Christian orthodoxy, and the heresies were fewer and more effectively repressed {because the Unity of G-D, without fences, was the only article of Faith}. Because their persistence as a distinct people through all dispersions and persecution so largely depended on their common religion {therefore the efficacy of circumcision}, the Jews regarded religious deviations as disloyalites which threatened national survival; Spinoza himself remarks the indispensable contribution of religion to the identity of the Jewish people, and interprets parts of the {Hebrew Bible} as properly to be understood as a figurative illustration of the dependence of Jewish nationality on the Jewish religion; the Bible story of the divine guidance of the Jewish people in their dispersion through the agency of the prophets represents the historical insight that, without prophetic leaders giving them a fanatical sense of mission, the Jews would certainly have lost their sense of national identity. Spinoza's discussion of the relation of philosophy and faith is throughout intermingled with a discussion of the peculiar predicament of his people; for it is their early history and thought which constitute the {Hebrew Bible}; therefore an understanding of the {Hebrew Bible} and an understanding of the development of the page 205 Jewish people are for him inseparably connected. This is not the place to consider Spinoza's incidental remarks on the greatness and the limitations of the Jewish people; but his position as a scholar and also a victim of one of the most strictly orthodox communities must be recalled, if only because it is never allowed to cloud his argument; his impartial attitude illustrates his own conception of philosophy and of the free man.

Endnote TTP1 - From Book 32; Hampshire:205-9—TTP: Politics and Religion:

Purpose of the Theological-Political Treatise:

[1]  In the Preface to the Theological-Political Treatise Spinoza declares the main purpose of the book to be the defence of freedom of opinion; he will show that public order is not only compatible with freedom of opinion, but that it is incompatible with anything else. The argument is a now classical liberal argument, and is still invoked today. 'If deeds only could be made the grounds of criminal charges, and words were always allowed to pass free, seditions would be divested of every semblance of justification, and would be separated from mere controversies by a hard and fast line.' If law 'enters the domain of speculative thought', it will not only destroy the possibility of the free life for the individual, but generate those civil disorders which it is the function of law to avert. The argument that 'Revelation and Philosophy stand on totally different footings' and, rightly interpreted, cannot conflict is a means to showing the absolute necessity of allowing freedom of opinion; the conclusion is that 'Everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundation of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey G-D freely with his whole heart; while page 206 nothing would be honoured save justice and charity.' The chief document supporting Christian and Jewish revelation is the Bible; therefore a clear method of interpreting the scriptures is required. What was the inspiration of the Jewish prophets? What are we to believe of miracles? In what sense is the Bible the word of G-D? These are the old questions which many learned and devout interpreters had confused by their subtlety and sophistry, 'extorting from scripture confirmations of Aristotelian quibbles'; they had disregarded the plain meaning of the text in order to reconcile scripture {scriptural theology} with philosophy, faith with reason. But faith and reason cannot be, and do not need to be, reconciled {Mark Twain}; on the contrary, they can only be separated, each being allotted its own sphere; while scripture and faith are concerned with the 'moral certainty' necessary to men who cannot reason, philosophy and reason are concerned with logical or mathematical certainty. The Bible shows the prophets to have been ignorant men with vivid imaginations and a powerful and just moral sense; therefore they were suitable leaders of a primitive people; their theoretical opinions are the primitive and mutually contradictory superstitions typical of a pre-scientific age; but an effective prophet does not need to be a philosopher any more than a philosopher needs to be a prophet. The appeal of the prophet is to the imagination, and he must have the means to impress simple, useful moral precepts on ignorant men. The appeal of the philosopher is to the reason, and he is concerned only with the consistency and truth of what he writes, and not at all with its effect on the emotions page 207 through the imagination. The work of the prophet is achieved if he persuades men to obey the laws of' their society and to lead quiet and useful lives; the forms which this persuasion must take, if it is to be effective, must depend on the state of knowledge within the society. If we appreciate the old Jewish prophets from this standpoint, we find that they were ignorant men brilliantly gifted to instil faith and obedience in an ignorant society by myth and story. As philosophers, we understand their function, and do not regard their writings as making any claim to literal truth. Confusion comes from the false sophistication of those who, like the great Maimonides, try to read philosophic truths into the text of Scripture by ingenuities of interpretation. It is both futile and dangerous to try to convert the old prophets into rational metaphysicians; one will only undermine their authority as prophets. Any intelligent and pious Jew or Christian must experience a crisis of conscience if he is asked to choose between modern knowledge and scriptural authority; but the crisis is unnecessary, because there can be no question of choosing between reason and prophecy; the dilemma is falsely stated; rational argument requires belief {in the logic of the argument}, and religion and prophecy require only practical obedience to moral precept {and to bring peace-of-mind}.To require belief in miracles of educated men is gratuitously {being without apparent reason, cause, or justification} to provoke disobedience, and this Is the very vice which the stories of miracles served, in very different conditions {of uneducated men}, to prevent. As the only interest of a rational government is the obedience of its subjects, it wlll permit, and will recognize that it cannot prevent, every page 208 variety of belief, provided only that these beliefs are compatible with obedience and good order. Therefore in a free (that is, rationally governed) state 'every man may think what he likes, and say what he thinks': 'The real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgement which they are unable to tyrannize over' (Theological-Political Treatise. Ch. XX). A rational government requires enlightened and tolerant citizens {Moslem countries?}, just as free men require an enlightened and tolerant government. This is the proposition which the Theological-Political Treatise was intended to prove; it is shown as the direct consequence of Spinoza's metaphysical conception of a person as a finite mode of Nature, necessarily seeking his own preservation {conatus}, and potentially free and happy in so far as he can acquire rational understanding of Nature and of himself. Freedom and happiness {better; peace-of-mind} are within, and virtue is its own reward; the official religions and conventional moralities, in their own interests as in the interests of freedom of mind, must be confined to the externals of human behaviour; they must ensure the social conditions in which true freedom can develop. Spinoza further argued, with little relevance to conditions after the Industrial Revolution, that a restricted 'democracy', with the opportunity of political power limited by a property qualification, was most likely to provide this rational and non-interfering government; his contemporary ideal was the mercantile community of Amsterdam, which provided asylum to people of many creeds and denominations, provided that they were willing to keep the page 209 peace. Universities and academies of instruction must be free from state-control, free intelligence rewarded, public business publicly transacted, and the churches disestablished and maintained at the expense of their believers. {Churches become obsolete when in millennia to come, the World State constitution becomes the World Bibleno fences.} Then every man may be free to live his own life and extend his own mind, wherein alone lies his happiness, within a neutral framework of common convenience.

From "Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy"; Cambridge University Press;
        ISBN: 052148328X; Page 762—Theological-Political Treatise.

In his Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza also takes up popular religion, the interpretation of Scripture, and their bearing on the well-being of the state. He characterizes the Old Testament prophets as individuals whose vivid imaginations produced messages of political value for the ancient Hebrew state. Using a naturalistic out-look and historical hermeneutic {interpretative; explanatory} methods that anticipate the later "higher criticism" of the bible, he seeks to show that Scriptural writers themselves consistently treat only justice and charity as essential to salvation, and hence that dogmatic doxastic {religious views} requirements are not justified by Scripture. Popular religion should thus propound only these two requirements, which it may imaginatively represent, to the minds of the many, as requirements for rewards granted by a divine Lawgiver. The few, who are more philosophical and who thus rely on intellect, will recognize that the natural laws of human psychology require charity and justice as conditions of happiness, and that what the vulgar construe as rewards granted by personal divine intervention are in fact the {chain of} natural consequences of a virtuous life.

Because of his identification of G-D with Nature and his treatment of popular religion, Spinoza's contemporaries often regarded his philosophy as a thinly disguised atheism. Paradoxically however, nineteenth-century Romanticism embraced him for his pantheism {Spinoza's Pantheism}; Novalis, e.g., famously characterized Page 763 him as "the G-D-intoxicated man." In fact, Spinoza ascribes to Nature most of the characteristics that Western theologians have ascribed to G-D: Spinozistic Nature is infinite, eternal, necessarily existing, the object of an ontological argument, the first cause of all things, all-knowing, and the Being whose contemplation produces blessedness, intellectual love, and participation in a kind of immortality or eternal life. Spinoza's claim to affirm the existence of G-D is therefore no mere evasion. However, he emphatically denies that G-D is a person or acts for purposes {ends}; that anything is good or evil from the divine perspective or that there is a personal immortality involving memory.

In addition to his influence on the history of biblical criticism and on literature (including not only Novalis but such writers as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Heine, Shelley, George Eliot, George Sand, Somerset Maugham, Jorge Luis Borges, and Bernard Malamud), Spinoza has affected the philosophical outlooks of such diverse twentieth-century thinkers as Freud and Einstein. Contemporary {neurologists and} physicists have seen in his monistic metaphysics an anticipation of twentieth-century field metaphysics. More generally, he is a leading intellectual forebear of twentieth century determinism and naturalism, and of the mind-body identity theory.

Spinoza Electronic Texts
Spinoza Internet Web Sites  
The Life of Spinoza by Johannes  Colerus - Bk.XII:409.

The Life of Spinoza by Frederick Pollock - Bk.XII:1.

"Spinoza, Benedict de" - if not subscribed to Britannica Online.

Benedict de Spinoza.   Bill Uzgalis.  Philosophy Department,
Oregon State University.

Studia Spinoziana.  Ron Bombardi. Department of Philosophy,
Middle Tennessee State University.

A Spinoza Chronology.  Compiled by Ron Bombardi.  Department of
Philosophy, Middle Tennessee State University.

Thoemmes Press. Benedict de Spinoza.

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