Hampshire:202-3, 203-5
, 205-9 

(Published 1670 anonymously)

Benedict de Spinoza
1632 - 1677

Part 2 - Chapters VI to X
Part 1 ,  Part 2 ,  Part 3Part 4

Metaphors, Metaphor of Commandment of G-DReferred to G-DG:Shirley:42.

JBY Notes:

1.  Text was scanned from Book II and is a translation from
     Bruder's 1843  Latin  text  by  R.H.M.  Elwes  (1883).

     JBY  added  sentence  numbers. 
2.   (y:xx):   y = Chapter  Number,  if  given;   xx = Sentence  Number.
3.   Page  numbers  are  those  of  Book II.
4.   Citation abbreviations.
5.  ( Spinoza's Footnote or the Latin word ) , 
     ] Shirley's Bk. XI (or XIII) translation variance or note [ ,
     { JBY comment, emendation, or endnote }.    LINKS 

6.  Please  e-mail  errors,  clarification  requests,  disagreement,
     or  suggestions  to  josephb@yesselman.com.

7.  TEXT version without links and and without commentary. 
     Latin version on a CD. 
8.  There  is  much  in  this  work  that you will not agree with or even          Graetz's Censure
     think  nonsensealthough  keep  in mind that Spinoza was under 
     the constraints of religious  intolerance.    Spinoza was born in the 
     very year (1632) that  the inquisitorial denunciation of Galileo took 
     place.  However,  partake  of  the work (and my commentaries) as 
     you  would  a  pomegranate; relish  the  flesh,  but spit-out the pits. 

9.  EL:[7]:viii, EL:[11]:xi, EL:[17]:xiii, EL:[22]:xvi, EL:[64]:xxxi, EL:xxxiii:J6, 
     L19:296, L20:297, L23:301, L49:364,  old vocabulary in new bottles.
{Scriptural Theology}         Hampshire:205
10. The  chief  aim  of  the whole treatise is to
separate  faith ^ {Religion}          Smith:Divine Law
      from philosophy.  ]Shirley:37What emerges in the TTP, as far as is Spinoza           Hampshire:203 & 205
      concerned, is the possibility of a this-worldly blessedness for both the rational person               TL:L36(23):345
       (through philosophy)
and the common person (through purified religion),
[                    EL:L21:(73):298
      {By my defining Religion as an hypothesis, the two are synthesized.}                     Philosophy / Religion
11.  Links - To differentiate links from quotations (both blue text) set your
                  browser options to show links underlined.
12.  Suggestion:  Do  not  read this Spinoza electronic text consecutively      Durant's Story
       as  you  would a novel, but rather follow a thread  by following all its        Schorsch
       links  in  turn.   You will then be putting hypertexting to its fullest and         EL:[3]:vi
       best advantage—the fuller discussion of a thread.  If you do not stick 
       to one thread (idea) at a timethis Web Site will be very convoluted,       Tickle the Fancy
       confusing, and an annoying maze. 

       If you prefer to read linearly, read these plain vanilla text versions,
       abridged versions, e-book versions,
or best, study the printed book
       book page numbers
are given for most scanned books.

Table of Contents

Preface (at beginning of Part I)

   Part                   Chapters

Part 1 I II III IV V

Author's Notes to Theologico-Political Treatise - Part 2

TABLE OF CONTENTS:                                  Bk.II Page Numbers

CHAPTER VI.Of Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Confused ideas of the vulgar on the subject.   81
A miracle in the sense of a contravention of natural laws an absurdity.   82
In the sense of an event, whose cause is unknown, less edifying
than an event better understood.
G-D's providence identical with the course of Nature.   89
How Scripture miracles may be interpreted.

CHAPTER VII.Of the Interpretation of
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Current systems of interpretation erroneous.   98
Only true system to interpret it by itself.  100
Reasons why this system cannot now be carried out in its entirety.  108
Yet these difficulties do not interfere with our understanding
the plainest and most important passages.
Rival systems examined—that of a supernatural faculty being
That of Maimonides.  114
Refuted. 116ff
Traditions of the Pharisees and the Papists rejected,

CHAPTER VIII.Of  the  authorship  of  the
Pentateuch, and the other historical books
of the {Hebrew Bible} . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120
The Pentateuch not written by Moses.  120
His actual writings distinct.  124
Traces of late authorship in the other historical books.  127
All the historical books the work of one man.  129
Probably Ezra.  130
Who compiled first the book of Deuteronomy.  131
And then a history, distinguishing the books by the
names of their subjects.

CHAPTER IX.Other questions about
                        these books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
That these books have not been thoroughly revised
and made to agree.
That there are many doubtful readings.  139
That the existing marginal notes are often such.  140
The other explanations of these notes refuted.  141
The hiatus.

CHAPTER X.- An Examination  of  the
remaining books of the Old Testament
according to the preceding method . . . . . . . . . . . .146
Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs.  146
Isaiah, Jeremiah.  147
Ezekiel, Hosea.  148
Other prophets, Jonah, Job.  149
Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.  150
The author declines to undertake a similar detailed
examination of the New Testament.


Authors Endnotes to the Treatise

Page 81

EL:L23(75):301, Shirley:338370 - belief in miracles inevitably leads to
     disbelief in the existence of G-D.
[                                                                   Talmud and Miracles 

(6:1)  As  men  are  accustomed  to  call  Divine  the  knowledge  which

transcends  human  understanding,  so  also do they style Divine, or

the work of G-D, anything of which the cause is not generally known:        Metaphors, Referral 

for the masses think that the power and providence of G-D are most       Chain of Natural Events 

clearly displayed by events that are extraordinary and contrary to the

conception  they  have  formed  of  Nature,  especially if such events
bring  them  any  profit  or  convenience:  they think that the clearest

possible  proof  of  G-D's existence is afforded when nature, as they

suppose,  breaks  her  accustomed  order,  and  consequently  they

believe  that  those  who explain or endeavour to understand pheno-

mena  or  miracles through their natural causes are doing away with

G-D  and  His  providence (6:2)  They  suppose, forsooth, that God is               Referral 

inactive  so long as nature works in her accustomed order, and vice

versâ,  that  the power of nature and natural causes are idle so long

as God is acting: thus they imagine two powers distinct one from the

other,  the  power  of God and the power of nature, though the latter

is  in  a  sense  determined by God, or (as most people believe now)

created by Him.  (6:3) What they mean by either, and what they under-

stand by God and nature they do not know, except that they imagine

the  power  of  God  to  be  like  that  of  some  royal  potentate, and

nature's power to consist in force and energy.

(6:4)   The  masses  then  style  unusual  phenomena,  "miracles,"  and            Hampshire:206

partly  from  piety,  partly  for  the  sake  of opposing  the students of

science,  prefer  to  remain  in ignorance of natural causes, and only

to  hear  of  those  things  which  they know least, and consequently

admire  most.  (6:5)  In  fact,  the  common  people can only adore God,

and  refer  all  things  to  His power by removing natural causes, and

conceiving  things  happening  out  of  their  due  course,   and  only

admires  page 82  the  power  of  God  when  the  power  of  nature  is

conceived of as in subjection to it.

(6:6) This  idea  seems  to  have  taken  its  rise among the early Jews

who  saw the Gentiles round them worshipping visible gods such as

the  sun,  the  moon, the earth, water, air, &c., and in order to inspire

the  conviction  that  such  divinities  were  weak  and  inconstant, or

changeable,  told  how  they  themselves were under the sway of an

invisible  God,  and  narrated  their  miracles,  trying  further to show

that  the  God  whom  they worshipped arranged the whole of nature

for  their  sole  benefit:  this  idea  was  so  pleasing to humanity that

men  go  on  to this day imagining miracles, so that they may believe

themselves  God's  favourites,  and  the  final  cause  for  which God

created and directs all things.

(6:7)  What  pretension  will  not  people in their folly advance!  (8) They

have  no  single  sound  idea  concerning either God or nature, they

confound  God's decrees with human decrees, they conceive nature

as  so  limited  that  they  believe  man to be its chief part! 
(6:9) I have

spent   enough  space  in  setting  forth  these  common  ideas  and

prejudices  concerning nature and miracles, but  in order to afford a

regular demonstration I will show—   EL:L20:297, EL:L21:298, EL:L22:299. }

Parkinson:279118Neff-L60(56):385, last paragraph. >    Nature and Miracles } 

I.        (6:10) That  nature cannot be contravened, but that she preserves
       a  fixed  and immutable order, and at the same time I will explain
       what is meant by a miracle.

II.     (6:11)  That  God's nature  and  existence,  and  consequently His     Omnipotence & Omniscience 
       providence  cannot  be  known  from miracles, but that they can
       all  be  much  better  perceived  from  the  fixed  and  immutable
       order of nature.

III.    (6:12) That  by  the  decrees  and  volitions, and consequently the
       providence  of  God,   Scripture  (as  I  will  prove  by  Scriptural
       examples)  means  nothing  but  nature's  order following neces-
       sarily from her eternal laws.

IV.   (6:13)  Lastly,  I  will  treat  of  the  method of interpreting Scriptural
       miracles,   and   the  chief  points  to  be  noted  concerning  the
       narratives of them.

(6:14)  Such  are  the  principal  subjects which will be discussed in this

chapter,  and which will serve, I think, not a little to further the object

of this treatise.

(6:15) Our first point is easily proved from what we showed in Chap. IV.

about  Divine law—namely,  that all that God  page 83  wishes or deter-

mines involves eternal necessity and truth, for we demonstrated that

God's  understanding is identical with His will, and that it is the same

thing  to  say that God wills a thing, as to say that He understands it;

hence,  as  it  follows necessarily from the Divine nature and perfec-

tion  that  God  understands  a thing as it is, it follows no less neces-

sarily  that  He  wills it as it is.  (16) Now, as nothing is necessarily true

save  only  by  Divine  decree,  it  is  plain  that the universal laws of

nature  are  decrees of God following from the necessity and perfec-

tion of the Divine nature(6:17) Hence, any event happening in nature

which  contravened  nature's  universal laws, would necessarily also

contravene  the Divine decree, nature, and understanding; or if any-

one  asserted  that  God  acts in contravention to the laws of nature,

he,  ipso facto, would be compelled to assert that God acted against
His  own  nature—an evident absurdity.  (6:18)  One might easily show

from  the  same premises that the power and efficiency of nature are

in  themselves  the  Divine power and efficiency, and that the Divine

power is the very essence of God, but this I gladly pass over for the


(6:19)  Nothing,  then,  comes  to  pass  in  nature  (N.B. I do not mean here by

"nature,"  merely  matter  and  its  modifications,  but infinite other things besides matter.) in

contravention  to  her  universal  laws,  nay,  everything agrees with

them  and  follows from them, for whatsoever comes to pass, comes

to  pass  by  the  will  and eternal decree of God; that is, as we have

just  pointed out, whatever comes to pass, comes to pass according

to  laws  and rules which involve eternal necessity and truth; nature,

therefore,  always  observes  laws  and  rules  which involve eternal

necessity  and  truth,  although they may not all be known to us, and

therefore  she  keeps  a  fixed and immutable order.  (6:20) Nor is there

any  sound  reason for limiting the power and efficacy of nature, and

asserting  that  her  laws  are  fit for certain purposes, but not for all;

for  as  the  efficacy  and  power of nature, are the very efficacy and

power  of  God, and as the laws and rules of nature are the decrees

of  God,  it  is in every way to be believed that the power of nature is

infinite,  and  that her laws are broad enough to embrace everything

conceived  by  the  Divine  intellect;  the  only alternative is to assert

that  God  has  created  nature so weak, and has  page 84   ordained for

her  laws  so barren, that He is repeatedly compelled to come afresh

to  her  aid  if  He  wishes  that  she  should  be  preserved, and that

things  should  happen  as  He  desires: a conclusion, in my opinion,

very  far  removed  from reason (6:21) Further, as nothing happens in

nature   which  does  not  follow  from  her  laws,   and  as  her  laws

embrace  everything  conceived  by  the  Divine  intellect, and lastly,

as  nature  preserves  a  fixed  and  immutable  order; it most clearly

follows  that  miracles  are  only  intelligible  as  in  relation to human

opinions,   and  merely  mean  events  of  which  the  natural  cause

cannot  be  explained  by  a  reference  to  any ordinary occurrence,
either  by us, or at any rate, by the writer and narrator of the miracle.

(6:22) We  may,  in  fact,  say  that  a  miracle  is  an event of which the

causes  cannot  be  explained by the natural reason through a refer-

ence  to  ascertained  workings  of  nature;  but  since miracles were

wrought  according  to  the  understanding  of  the masses,  who are

wholly  ignorant  of  the  workings  of  nature,  it  is  certain  that  the

ancients  took  for  a  miracle whatever they could not explain by the

method   adopted   by  the  unlearned  in  such  cases,   namely,  an

appeal  to  the  memory,  a  recalling  of  something  similar, which is  

ordinarily  regarded  without  wonder;   for  most  people  think  they

sufficiently  understand  a  thing  when they have ceased to wonder

at  it.  (6:23)  The  ancients, then, and indeed most men up to the pres-

ent  day,  had  no  other  criterion  for  a  miracle;  hence  we cannot

doubt  that  many  things  are  narrated  in  Scripture  as miracles of

which  the  causes  could easily be explained by reference to ascer-

tained workings of nature.  (6:24) We have hinted as much in Chap. II.,

in speaking of the sun standing still in the time of Joshua, and going

backwards  in  the time of Ahaz; but we shall soon have more to say

on   the  subject  when  we  come  to  treat  of  the  interpretation  of

miracles later on in this chapter.

(6:25)  It  is  now time to pass on to the second point, and show that we

cannot gain an understanding of God's essence, existence, or provi-

dence  by  means  of miracles, but that these truths are much better

perceived   through   the   fixed   and   immutable   order   of  nature.

(6:26)  I  thus proceed with the demonstration.  (27) As God's existence is

not self-evident (6) it must necessarily be inferred from   page 85   ideas

so  firmly  and incontrovertibly true, that no power can be postulated
or  conceived  sufficient to impugn them.  (28) They ought certainly so

to appear to us when we infer from them God's existence, if we wish

to  place  our  conclusion  beyond the reach of doubt; for if we could

conceive  that such ideas could be impugned by any power whatso-

ever,  we should doubt of their truth, we should doubt of our conclu-

sion,  namely,  of  God's  existence,  and should never be able to be

certain of anything.  (6:29) Further, we know that nothing either agrees

with  or  is  contrary  to nature, unless it agrees with or is contrary to

these  primary  ideas;  wherefore if we would conceive that anything

could  be done  in nature  by any power whatsoever which would be

contrary  to  the  laws  of  nature,  it  would  also  be  contrary  to our

primary  ideas,  and  we  should have either to reject it as absurd, or

else  to cast doubt (as just shown) on our primary ideas, and conse-

quently  on  the  existence  of  God,  and  on  everything howsoever

perceived.   (6:30)  Therefore  miracles, in the sense of events contrary

to  the  laws of nature, so far from demonstrating to us the existence
of God, would, on the contrary, lead us to doubt it, where, otherwise,

we  might  have been absolutely certain of it, as knowing that nature
follows a fixed and immutable order.

(6:31)  Let  us  take miracle as meaning that which cannot be explained

through  natural  causes.  (32)  This  may be interpreted in two senses:

either  as that which has natural causes, but cannot be examined by

the  human  intellect;  or  as  that which has no cause save God and

God's  will.  (6:33) But as all things which come to pass through natural

causes, come to pass also solely through the will and power of God,

it  comes to this, that a miracle, whether it has natural causes or not,

is  a  result  which cannot be explained by its cause, that is a pheno-

menon  which  surpasses  human  understanding;  but  from  such a

phenomenon,  and  certainly  from  a  result  surpassing  our  under-

standing,   we   can  gain  no  knowledge.   (6:34)  For  whatsoever  we

understand  clearly  and  distinctly  should  be  plain  to  us  either in

itself  or  by  means  of  something  else  clearly and distinctly under-

stood;  wherefore from a miracle or a phenomenon which we cannot

understand,  we  can  gain no knowledge of G-D's essence, or exist-

ence,  or  indeed  anything  about G-D or Nature; whereas when we

know  that   page 86  all  things  are  ordained  and ratified by God, that

the  operations  of  nature  follow from the essence of God, and that

the  laws  of  nature  are  eternal  decrees  and  volitions of God, we

must  perforce  conclude  that  our  knowledge  of God, and of God's

will  increases in proportion to our knowledge and clear understand-

ing  of  nature,  as  we  see  how  she depends on her primal cause,

and  how  she works according to eternal law.  (6:35) Wherefore so far

as our understanding goes, those phenomena which we clearly and

distinctly  understand  have  much  better right to be called works of

God,  and  to  be  referred  to the will of God than those about which

we  are  entirely  ignorant,  although  they  appeal  powerfully  to the

imagination, and compel men's admiration.

(6:36)  It  is  only  phenomena that we clearly and distinctly understand,

which  heighten  our  knowledge  of  God,  and most clearly indicate

His  will and decrees. (37) Plainly, they are but triflers who, when they

cannot  explain  a  thing,  run  back to the will of God; this is, truly, a

ridiculous  way  of expressing ignorance.  (6:38) Again, even supposing

that  some  conclusion  could  be drawn from miracles, we could not

possibly  infer  from  them  the  existence of God: for a miracle being

an  event  under  limitations  is  the  expression of a fixed and limited

power;  therefore  we  could  not  possibly infer from an effect of this

kind  the  existence  of  a  cause  whose  power  is infinite, but at the

utmost  only  of  a cause  whose  power  is  greater  than  that of the

said  effect.  (6:39)  I  say  at the utmost, for a phenomenon may be the

result  of  many  concurrent  causes, and its power may be less than

the  power  of  the  sum  of  such causes, but far greater than that of

any  one  of  them  taken  individually.   (6:39a)  On  the  other hand, the

laws  of  nature,  as  we  have  shown,  extend  over infinity, and are

conceived  by  us  as,  after  a  fashion, eternal, and nature works in

accordance  with  them  in  a  fixed  and  immutable order; therefore,

such  laws  indicate to us in a certain degree the infinity, the eternity,

and the immutability of God.

(6:40)   We  may  conclude, then, that we cannot gain knowledge of the

existence  and  providence of God by means of miracles, but that we

can  far  better  infer  them  from  the  fixed  and  immutable  order of

nature.  (6:41)  By  miracle,  I  here mean an event which surpasses, or

is  thought  to  surpass,  human  comprehension: for in so far as it is

supposed  to  destroy  or  page 87  interrupt  the  order  of  nature or her

laws,  it not only can give us no knowledge of G-D, but, contrariwise,

takes  away  that  which  we  naturally have, and makes us doubt of

G-D and everything else.

(6:42)  Neither  do I recognize any difference between an event against

the  laws  of  nature and an event beyond the laws of nature (that is,

according  to  some,  an event  which  does  not  contravene nature,

though  she  is  inadequate  to  produce or effect it)—for a miracle is

wrought  in, and not beyond nature, though it may be said in itself to

be  above  nature,  and,  therefore,  must  necessarily  interrupt  the

order  of  nature,   which  otherwise  we  conceive  of  as  fixed  and

unchangeable,   according   to   God's   decrees.   (6:43)   If,   therefore,

anything  should  come to pass in nature which does not follow from

her  laws,  it  would  also be in contravention to the order which God

has  established  in  nature  for  ever through universal natural laws:

it  would,  therefore,  be  in  contravention  to God's nature and laws,

and,  consequently,  belief  in  it would throw doubt upon everything,

and lead to Atheism.

(6:44)  I  think  I  have  now sufficiently established my second point, so

that  we can again conclude that a miracle, whether in contravention

to,  or  beyond, nature, is a mere absurdity; and, therefore, that what

is  meant  in  Scripture  by  a  miracle  can  only be a work of nature,

which  surpasses,  or is believed to surpass, human comprehension. 

(6:45)  Before  passing  on  to  my  third  point,  I  will adduce Scriptural

authority  for  my assertion that God cannot be known from miracles. 

(6:46)  Scripture  nowhere  states the doctrine openly, but it can readily

be  inferred  from  several passages. 
(47) Firstly, that in which Moses

commands  (Deut. xiii.)  that  a false prophet should be put to death,

even  though  he work miracles: "If there arise a prophet among you,

and  giveth  thee  a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder come to

pass,  saying,  Let us go after other gods . . . thou shalt not hearken

unto  the  voice  of  that  prophet; for the Lord your God proveth you,

and  that  prophet  shall  be  put  to  death.(6:48)  From  this it clearly

follows  that  miracles could be wrought even by false prophets; and

that,  unless  men  are  honestly  endowed  with  the true knowledge

and  love  of  G-D,  they  may  be  as easily led by miracles to follow

false  gods  as  to  follow  the  true  G-D; for these words are added:

"For  the   page 88   Lord  your  God  tempts  you,  that  He  may  know

whether  you  love  Him with all your heart {religion} and with all your


Further,  the  Israelites,  from  all  their  miracles, were unable to

form  a  sound  conception  of G-D,  as their experience testified: for

when  they  had  persuaded  themselves  that  Moses had departed

from  among  them,  they  petitioned Aaron to give them visible gods;

and  the  idea  of  God  they  had  formed  as  the  result  of  all their

miracles was—a calf {idolatry}!

(6:50)  Asaph,  though  he  had heard of so many miracles, yet doubted

of  the  providence  of  God, and would have turned himself from the

true way, if he had not at last come to understand true blessedness.

(See Ps. lxxiii.(6:51)  Solomon,  too, at a time when the Jewish nation

was  at  the  height  of its prosperity, suspects that all things happen

by chance.  (See Eccles. iii:19, 20, 21; and chap. ix:2, 3, &c.)

(6::52)  Lastly,  nearly  all  the  prophets  found  it very hard to reconcile

the  order  of nature and human affairs with the conception they had

formed  of God's providence, whereas philosophers who endeavour

to  understand  things  by  clear conceptions of them, rather than by

miracles,  have  always  found  the  task  extremely  easy—at  least,

such  of  them  as place true happiness solely in virtue and peace of

mind,  and  who aim at obeying Nature, rather than being obeyed by

her.  (6:53) Such persons rest assured that G-D directs nature accord-

ing  to  the  requirements  of  universal  laws,  not  according  to  the

requirements   of   the  particular  laws  of  human  nature,  and  trial,

therefore,  G-D's  scheme  comprehends,  not  only  the human race,

but the whole of Nature.

(6:54)  It  is  plain,  then,  from Scripture itself, that miracles can give no

knowledge  of  G-D,  nor  clearly  teach  us  the  providence  of G-D.                Metaphors

(55)  As  to  the  frequent  statements  in  Scripture,  that  God wrought

miracles  to make Himself plain to man—as in Exodus x:2, where He

deceived  the  Egyptians,  and gave signs of Himself, that the Israel-

ites  might  know  that  He  was God,—it  does  not, therefore, follow

that  miracles  really  taught  this  truth,  but  only  that the Jews held

opinions  which  laid  them  easily  open  to  conviction  by  miracles. 

(6:56)  We  have  shown  in  Chap. II.  that the reasons assigned by the

prophets,   or   those   which   are  formed  from  revelation,  are  not

assigned  in  accordance  with  ideas  universal  and  common to all,

but  in  accordance  with  the  accepted   page 89   doctrines,  however

absurd,  and  with  the opinions of those to whom the revelation was

given, or those whom the Holy Spirit wished to convince.

(6:57)  This  we  have illustrated by many Scriptural instances, and can

further  cite  Paul,  who to the Greeks was a Greek, and to the Jews

a  Jew.  (58)  But  although  these  miracles  could  convince the Egyp-

tians  and Jews from their standpoint, they could not give a true idea

and  knowledge of G-D, but only cause them to admit that there was

a  Deity  more  powerful  than  anything known to them, and that this

Deity  took special care of the Jews, who had just then an unexpect-

edly  happy  issue of all their affairs.  (6:59) They could not teach them

that  G-D  cares  equally for all, for this can be taught only by philos-

ophy:  the  Jews,  and  all  who  took their knowledge of God's provi-

dence  from  the  dissimilarity  of  human  conditions  of  life  and the

inequalities  of  fortune,  persuaded  themselves  that  God loved the

Jews  above  all  men,  though  they  did not surpass their fellows in

true human perfection.

(6:60)  I  now  go  on to my third point, and show from Scripture that the

decrees  and  mandates  of  G-D, and consequently His providence,              Metaphors

are  merely  the  order  of Nature—that  is, when Scripture describes

an  event  as  accomplished  by  G-D  or  G-D's will, we must under-

stand  merely  that  it  was  in  accordance with the law and order of

nature,  not,  as  most  people  believe, that nature had for a season

ceased   to   act,   or   that   her  order  was  temporarily  interrupted. 

(6:61)  But  Scripture  does not directly teach matters unconnected with

its  doctrine,  wherefore  it  has  no  care  to  explain  things  by their
natural   causes,   nor   to   expound   matters   merely   speculative.              Cash Value

(6:62)  Wherefore  our  conclusion  must be gathered by inference from

those  Scriptural  narratives  which  happen  to  be  written  more  at

length  and  circumstantially  than usual.  (63) Of these I will cite a few.

(6:64)  In  the  first  book  of  Samuel, ix:15, 16,  it  is  related  that  God

revealed to Samuel that He would send Saul to him, yet God did not

send Saul to Samuel as people are wont to send one man to another. 

(6:65) His "sending" was merely the ordinary course of nature.  (66)  Saul

was  looking  for  the asses he had lost, and was meditating a return

home  without them, when, at the suggestion of his servant, he went

  page 90  to  the  prophet  Samuel,  to  learn  from  him  where he might

find  them.  (6:67)  From  no  part  of  the  narrative  does  it appear that

Saul   had  any  command  from  God  to  visit  Samuel  beyond  this

natural motive.

(6:68)  In  Psalm cv. 24  it  is  said  that  God  changed the hearts of the

Egyptians,  so  that  they  hated the Israelites.  (69) This was evidently

a  natural  change,  as appears from Exodus, chap. i., where we find

no  slight  reason for the Egyptians reducing the Israelites to slavery.

(6:70)  In  Genesis ix:13,  God tells Noah that He will set His bow in the

cloud;  this  action  of  God's  is  but  another  way  of expressing the

refraction  and  reflection  which the rays of the sun are subjected to

in drops of water.

(6:71)  In  Psalm cxlvii:18,  the  natural  action  and  warmth of the wind,             Metaphors

by  which hoar frost and snow are melted, are styled the word of the

Lord,  and  in  verse 15  wind and cold are called the commandment               Examples

and word of God.

(6:72)  In  Psalm civ:4, wind and fire are called the angels and ministers

of  G-D,  and  various  other  passages of the same sort are found in

Scripture,  clearly  showing that the decree, commandment, fiat, and

word  of  G-D  are  merely  expressions  for  the  action and order of


(6:73)  Thus  it  is plain that all the events narrated in Scripture came to

pass  naturally,  and  are  referred directly to G-D because Scripture,

as  we  have  shown,  does  not  aim  at  explaining  things  by  their

natural  causes,  but  only  at  narrating  what appeals to the popular

imagination,  and  doing  so  in  the manner best calculated to excite

wonder,  and  consequently to impress the minds of the masses with             Constitution

devotion.   (6:74)  If,  therefore,  events are found in the Bible which we

cannot  refer  to  their causes, nay, which seem entirely to contradict

the  order  of  nature,  we  must  not  come to a stand, but assuredly

believe   that   whatever   did   really   happen   happened  naturally.            Exodus—freedom

(6:75)  This  view  is  confirmed  by  the  fact  that  in  the case of every

miracle  there  were  many  attendant  circumstances,  though these

were  not  always  related,  especially  where  the narrative was of a

poetic character.

(6:76)  The  circumstances of the miracles clearly show, I maintain, that

natural  causes  were needed.  (77)  For instance, in order to infect the

Egyptians  with  blains,  it  was  necessary  page 91  that Moses should
                            { ^
an inflammatory swelling or sore}
scatter  ashes  in  the  air (Exod. ix: 10);  the locusts also came upon

the  land  of Egypt by a command of God in accordance with nature,

namely,  by  an  east  wind  blowing  for  a whole day and night; and

they  departed  by  a very strong west wind (Exod. x:14, 19).  (6:78) By

a  similar  Divine  mandate the sea opened a way for the Jews (Exo.

xiv:21),  namely,  by  an east wind which blew very strongly all night.

(6:79)  So,  too, when Elisha would revive the boy who was believed to

be  dead,  he  was  obliged  to bend over him several times until the

flesh  of  the  child  waxed  warm,  and  at  last  he  opened his eyes

(2 Kings iv:34, 35).

(6:80) Again, in John's Gospel (chap. ix.) certain acts are mentioned as

performed  by Christ preparatory to healing the blind man, and there

are  numerous  other  instances showing that something further than

the   absolute   fiat   of   God   is   required   for   working  a  miracle.
                        { ^
an authoritative decree}

(6:81)  Wherefore  we  may  believe  that,  although  the circumstances

attending  miracles  are  not  related  always  or  in  full  detail, yet a

miracle was never performed without them.

(6:82)  This  is  confirmed  by  Exodus xiv:27,  where  it is simply stated

that  "Moses  stretched  forth  his  hand,  and  the  waters of the sea

returned  to  their  strength  in  the morning," no mention being made

of  a  wind;  but  in  the song of Moses (Exod. xv:10) we read, "Thou

didst  blow  with Thy wind (i.e. with a very strong wind), and the sea

covered  them.  (6:83)  Thus  the attendant circumstance is omitted in

the history, and the miracle is thereby enhanced.

(6:84)  But  perhaps  someone  will  insist  that  we  find  many things in

Scripture  which  seem  in  nowise  explicable  by natural causes, as

for  instance,  that  the  sins  of  men  and  their  prayers  can be the

cause  of  rain  and  of  the  earth's  fertility, or that faith can heal the

blind,  and  so  on.  
(6:85)  But  I  think  I  have already made sufficient

answer: I have shown that Scripture does not explain things by their

secondary causes, but only narrates them in the order and the style

which  has  most  power  to  move  men, and especially uneducated             Hampshire:202

men,  to  devotion;  and therefore it speaks inaccurately of G-D and

of  events,  seeing  that  its  object  is  not  to  convince  the  reason,
bring Peace-of-Mind}
but  to  attract  and  lay hold of the imagination.  (6:86) If the Bible were       Mark Twain's "Little Story"

to  describe  the  destruction   page 92   of an empire in the style of poli-

tical  historians,  the  masses  would  remain  unstirred, whereas the

contrary is the case when it adopts the method of poetic description,

and  refers  all  things immediately to God.  (6:87) When, therefore, the

Bible  says  that  the  earth  is  barren because of men's sins, or that

the  blind  were  healed  by  faith,  we  ought  to take no more notice

than  when  it  says  that  God is angry at men's sins, that He is sad,                5P17 

that  He  repents  of the good He has promised and done; or that on

seeing  a  sign  he  remembers  something  He  had  promised,  and
other  similar  expressions,  which are either thrown out poetically or

related   according   to   the   opinion  and  prejudices  of  the  writer.

(6:88)  We  may,  then,  be  absolutely certain that every event which is

truly  described  in  Scripture  necessarily happened, like everything

else,  according  to  natural  laws;  and  if anything is there set down

which  can  be proved in set terms to contravene the order of nature,            Durant:64087  

or  not  to  be  deducible  therefrom, we must believe it to have been
or to be interpreted metaphorically or allegorically}
foisted into the sacred writings by irreligious hands ^ ; for whatsoever 

is  contrary  to  nature  is also contrary to reason, and whatsoever is

contrary   to   reason   is  absurd,  and,  ipso  facto,  to  be  rejected.

(6:89)   There   remain  some  points  concerning  the  interpretation  of

miracles  to  be noted, or rather to be recapitulated, for most of them

have  been  already  stated.   (90)  These  I  proceed  to discuss in the

fourth  division  of  my  subject,  and  I  am  led  to do so lest anyone

should,  by  wrongly  interpreting  a  miracle,  rashly  suspect that he

has   found   something   in   Scripture   contrary   to  human  reason.

(6:91)  It  is  very  rare for men to relate an event simply as it happened,

without  adding  any  element  of  their own judgment.  (92) When they

see  or  hear  anything  new,  they  are, unless strictly on their guard,

so  occupied  with  their own  preconceived  opinions  that  they per-

ceive  something  quite  different  from the plain facts seen or heard,

especially  if  such facts surpass the comprehension of the beholder

or  hearer, and, most of all, if he is interested in their happening in a

given way.

(6:93)  Thus  men  relate  in chronicles and histories their own opinions

rather  than  actual  events,  so  that  one  and  the same event is so

differently  related  by  two  men  of  different  page 93  opinions,  that it

seems  like  two  separate  occurrences;  and, further, it is very easy

from  historical  chronicles  to  gather  the  personal  opinions  of the


(6:94) I could cite many instances in proof of this from the writings both

of  natural  philosophers and historians, but I will content myself with

one  only  from  Scripture,  and  leave the reader to judge of the rest.

(6:95)  In the time of Joshua the Hebrews held the ordinary opinion that

the  sun  moves  with  a  daily  motion,  and that the earth remains at

rest;  to  this  preconceived  opinion  they adapted the miracle which

occurred  during  their  battle  with  the  five  kings(6:96) They did not

simply  relate  that  that day was longer than usual, but asserted that

the  sun and moon  stood  still, or ceased from their motion—a state-

ment  which  would be of great service to them at that time in convin-

cing  and  proving  by  experience  to  the Gentiles, who worshipped

the  sun,  that  the  sun  was  under  the control of another deity who

could  compel  it to change its daily course.  (6:97) Thus, partly through

religious  motives,  partly  through  preconceived opinions, they con-

ceived  of  and  related  the  occurrence as something quite different

from what really happened.

(6:98)  Thus  in  order  to  interpret  the  Scriptural  miracles  and under-

stand  from  the  narration  of  them  how  they  really happened, it is

necessary  to  know  the  opinions  of  those  who  first  related them,

and  have  recorded  them  for  us in writing, and to distinguish such

opinions  from  the actual impression made upon their senses, other-

wise  we  shall  confound  opinions  and  judgments  with  the actual

miracle  as  it  really occurred: nay, further, we shall confound actual

events  with  symbolical  and  imaginary  ones.  (6:99)  For many things

are  narrated  in  Scripture  as  real,  and  were  believed  to  be real,

which   were   in   fact  only  symbolical  and  imaginary.  (6:100)  As, for

instance,  that  God  came  down  from  heaven  (Exod. xix:18,  Deut.

v:28),  and  that Mount Sinai smoked because God descended upon

it  surrounded  with  fire;  or,  again that Elijah ascended into heaven

in  a  chariot of fire,  with  horses of fire;  all these things were assur-

edly  merely  symbols  adapted  to  the  opinions  of  those who have

handed  them down to us as they were represented to them, namely,

as real.  (6:101) All who have any education know that G-D has    page 94

no  right  hand  nor  left;  that  He  is  not  moved nor at rest, nor in a

particular  place,  but  that  He  is  absolutely  infinite and contains in

Himself all perfections.

(6:102)  These  things,  I repeat, are known to whoever judges of things

by  the  perception  of pure reason, and not according as his imagin-

ation  is affected by his outward senses.  (6:103) Following the example

of  the masses who imagine a bodily Deity, holding a royal court with

a  throne  on  the  convexity  of  heaven,  above  the stars, which are

believed to be not very far off from the earth.

(6:104) To these and similar opinions very many narrations in Scripture

are  adapted,  and  should  not,  therefore,  be  mistaken  by philoso-

phers for realities.

(6:105)  Lastly,  in  order  to  understand,  in  the case of miracles,  what

actually  took  place,  we  ought  to  be  familiar  with Jewish phrases         Hebrew expression 

and  metaphors;  anyone  who  did  not make sufficient allowance for

these,   would   be  continually  seeing  miracles  in  Scripture  where

nothing  of  the kind is intended by the writer; he would thus miss the

knowledge  not  only of what actually happened, but also of the mind

of   the   writers  of  the  sacred  text.   (6:106)  For  instance,  Zechariah

speaking  of  some future war says (chap. xiv;7):It shall be one day

which  shall  be  known  to  the  Lord,  not  day nor night; but at even

time  it  shall  be  light. (6:106a)  In  these  words  he seems to predict a

great  miracle,  yet  he  only  means  that  the  battle  will be doubtful

the  whole  day,  that the issue will be known only to God, but that in

the  evening  they  will gain the victory: the prophets frequently used

to  predict  victories  and  defeats  of  the  nations  in similar phrases.

(6:107)  Thus  Isaiah, describing the destruction of Babylon, says (chap.

xiii:10): "The stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not

give  their  light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the

moon  shall  not  cause  her  light  to  shine."  (6:108)  Now I suppose no

one  imagines  that  at  the destruction of Babylon these phenomena

actually  occurred  any  more than that which the prophet adds, "For

I  will  make  the  heavens  to  tremble,  and  remove the earth out of

her place."

(6:109)  So,  too,  Isaiah  in foretelling to the Jews that they would return

from  Babylon  to  Jerusalem  in  safety,  and  would  not  suffer from
Isa 48:21}
thirst  on  their  journey,  says: "And they thirsted  page 95 not when He

led  them  through  the  deserts; He caused the waters to flow out of

the  rocks  for them; He clave the rocks, and the waters gushed out."

(6:110)  These  words  merely  mean  that  the  Jews,  like other people,

found  springs  in  the desert, at which they quenched their thirst; for

when  the  Jews  returned  to Jerusalem with the consent of Cyrus, it

is admitted that no similar miracles befell them.

(6:111)  In  this  way  many  occurrences in the Bible are to be regarded

merely  as  Jewish  expressions(112)  There  is  no need for me to go

through  them  in  detail;  but  I  will call attention generally to the fact

that  the  Jews employed such phrases not only rhetorically, but also,
used for mere style or effect ^ }
and indeed chiefly, from devotional motives.  (6:113) Such is the reason

for  the  substitution  of "bless God" for "curse God" in 1 Kings xxi:10,

and  Job  ii:9,  and  for  all  things  being  referred  to God, whence it

appears  that  the  Bible  seems  to relate nothing but miracles, even

when  speaking  of  the  most  ordinary occurrences, as in the exam-

ples given above.

(6:114)  Hence  we  must believe that when the Bible says that the Lord
Exo 7:13}
hardened  Pharaoh's  heart,  it  only  means that Pharaoh was obsti-
Gen 7:11}
nate;  when  it  says that God opened the windows of heaven, it only

means  that  it  rained  very hard, and so on.  (115) When we reflect on

these  peculiarities,  and also on the fact that most things are related

very  shortly,  with  very  little  details  and almost in abridgments, we

shall  see  that  there  is  hardly  anything  in  Scripture which can be

proved  contrary  to  natural  reason, while, on the other hand, many

things  which  before seemed obscure, will after a little consideration

be understood and easily explained.

(6:116)  I  think  I  have  now  very clearly explained all that I proposed to

explain,  but  before  I  finish  this chapter I would call attention to the

fact  that  I  have  adopted a different method in speaking of miracles

to  that  which  I  employed  in treating of prophecy.  (117)  Of prophecy

I have  asserted  nothing  which could not  be inferred from promises

revealed  in  Scripture,  whereas  in  this chapter I have deduced my

conclusions  solely  from  the  principles  ascertained  by  the natural

light  of  reason (6:118)  I  have  proceeded  in  this  way advisedly, for

prophecy,  in  that  it  surpasses human knowledge, is a purely theo-

logical  question;  therefore,  I knew that I could not make any asser-

tions  about  it,  nor  learn   page 96  wherein it consists, except through

deductions  from  premises that have been revealed; therefore I was

compelled  to  collate the history of prophecy, and to draw therefrom

certain  conclusions  which would teach me, in so far as such teach-

ing  is  possible, the nature and properties of the gift.  (6:119)  But in the

case  of  miracles,  as  our  inquiry is a question purely philosophical

(namely,  whether  anything  can happen which contravenes or does

not  follow from the laws of nature), I was not under any such neces-

sity:  I  therefore thought it wiser to unravel the difficulty through pre-

mises  ascertained  and  thoroughly  known  by  the  natural  light  of

reason.  (6:119a)  I  say  I  thought  it  wiser,  for  I could also easily have

solved   the  problem  merely  from  the  doctrines  and  fundamental

principles  of  Scripture:  in  order  that  everyone  may acknowledge

this, I will briefly show how it could be done.

(6:120)  Scripture makes the general assertion in several passages that

nature's  course  is  fixed  and  unchangeable.  (121) In Ps. cxlviii:6, for

instance,  and  Jer. xxxi:35.   (6:122) The wise man also, in Eccles. i:10,

distinctly  teaches that  "there is nothing new under the sun,"  and in

verses 11, 12,  illustrating  the  same  idea,  he  adds  that  although

something  occasionally  happens  which  seems new, it is not really

new,  but  "hath  been  already  of  old  time,  which  was  before  us,

whereof   there   is   no  remembrance,  neither  shall  there  be  any

remembrance  of things that are to come with those that come after."

(6:123)  Again  in  chap. iii:11,   he  says,  "God  hath  made  everything
Ecc 3:14}
beautiful in his time,"  and immediately afterwards adds, "I know that

whatsoever  God  doeth,  it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it,

nor anything taken from it."

(6:124)  Now  all  these texts teach most distinctly that nature preserves

a  fixed  and  unchangeable  order,  and that G-D in all ages, known

and  unknown,  has  been  the same; further, that the laws of Nature

are  so  perfect,  that  nothing can be added thereto nor taken there-

from;   and,   lastly,  that  miracles  only  appear  as  something  new

because of man's ignorance.

(6:125)  Such   is   the  express  teaching  of  Scripture:  nowhere  does

Scripture  assert that anything happens which contradicts, or cannot

follow  from  the  laws  of  Nature; and, therefore, we should not attri-

bute to it such a doctrine.

(6:126)  To  these  considerations  we  must  add,  that  miracles require

 page 97  causes  and  attendant  circumstances,  and  that  they  follow,

not  from  some  mysterious  royal  power which the masses attribute

to  God,  but  from  the  Divine  rule  and  decree, that is (as we have

shown  from  Scripture  itself)  from  the  laws  and  order  of  Nature;

lastly,  that  miracles  can  be  wrought  even by false prophets, as is

proved from Deut. xiii. and Matt. xxiv:24.

(6:127)  The  conclusion,  then, that is most plainly put before us is, that

miracles   were   natural   occurrences,   and  must  therefore  be  so

explained  as  to  appear  neither  new (in the words of Solomon) nor

contrary  to  nature,  but,  as  far as possible, in complete agreement

with  ordinary  events.  (6:128) This can easily be done by anyone, now

that  I  have  set  forth  the  rules  drawn from Scripture.  (6:129)  Never-

theless,  though  I  maintain  that Scripture teaches this doctrine, I do

not  assert  that  it  teaches  it  as  a truth necessary to salvation, but

only  that  the  prophets  were  in  agreement  with  ourselves on the

point;  therefore  everyone  is free to think on the subject as he likes,

according  as  he  thinks  it  best  for  himself, and most likely to con-
to lead or contribute to a result ^ }
duce   to   the   worship   of   G-D   and   to   singlehearted   religion.

(6:130)  This  is  also  the  opinion  of Josephus, for at the conclusion of

the  second book of his "Antiquities," he writes: Let no man think this

story  incredible  of  the  sea's  dividing  to save these people, for we

find  it  in  ancient  records  that this hath been seen before, whether

by  God's extraordinary will or by the course of nature it is indifferent.

(6:131)  The same thing happened one time to the Macedonians, under

the  command  of  Alexander,  when for want of another passage the

Pamphylian   Sea   divided  to  make  them  way;  God's  Providence

making  use  of  Alexander at that time as His instrument for destroy-

ing  the  Persian  Empire.  (6:132)  This  is  attested by all the historians

who have pretended to write the Life of that Prince.  (6:133)  But people

are at liberty to think what they please."

(6:134)  Such  are  the  words  of  Josephus,  and such is his opinion on

faith in miracles.

Page 98


(7:1) When  people declare, as all are ready to do, that the Bible is the

Word  of  G-D  teaching man true blessedness and the way of salva-                Referral 

tion,  they  evidently do not mean what they say; for the masses take

no pains at all to live according to Scripture, and we see most people

endeavouring  to hawk about their own commentaries as the word of

God, and giving their best efforts, under the guise of religion, to com-

pelling  others  to  think  as  they  do: we generally see, I say, theolo-

gians  anxious to learn how to wring their inventions and sayings out

of the sacred text, and to fortify them with Divine authority. 
(7:2)  Such

persons  never display less scruple or more zeal than when they are
Spinoza's intent - roo'-akh} 
interpreting  Scripture  or  the mind of the Holy Ghost; if we ever see
the third person of the Trinity. Also called <Holy Spirit> ^ }
them  perturbed,  it  is not that they fear to attribute some error to the

Holy  Spirit,  and  to stray from the right path, but that they are afraid

to  be  convicted  of error by others, and thus to overthrow and bring

into contempt their own authority.  (7:3)  But if men really believed what

they  verbally  testify  of  Scripture, they would adopt quite a different

plan of life: their minds would not be agitated by so many contentions,

nor  so  many  hatreds,  and  they would cease to be excited by such

a  blind  and  rash  passion  for  interpreting  the sacred writings, and

excogitating novelties in religion(7:4) On the contrary, they would not

dare  to  adopt,  as  the  teaching  of  Scripture,  anything which they

could not plainly deduce therefrom: lastly, those sacrilegious persons

who have dared, in several passages, to interpolate the Bible, would

have  shrunk  from  so  great  a  crime,  and  would  have stayed their

sacrilegious hands.

(7:5)  Ambition  and  unscrupulousness  have  waxed  so powerful, that

religion  is  thought  to  consist, not so much in respecting   page 99  the

writings  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  as  in defending human commentaries,

so that religion is no longer identified with charity, but with spreading

discord and propagating insensate hatred disguised under the name                Fences

of zeal for the Lord, and eager ardour.

(7:6)  To  these  evils  we must add superstition, which teaches men to

despise  reason  and  Nature,  and  only to admire and venerate that

which  is  repugnant  to  both:  whence it is not wonderful that for the

sake  of  increasing  the  admiration and veneration felt for Scripture,

men  strive  to  explain it so as to make it appear to contradict, as far

as  possible,  both  one  and  the  other:  thus  they  dream that most

profound  mysteries  lie  hid  in  the Bible, and weary themselves out

in  the  investigation  of  these  absurdities,  to  the neglect of what is

useful.   (7:7)  Every  result  of  their diseased imagination they attribute

to  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  strive  to  defend with the utmost zeal and

passion;  for  it  is  an  observed fact that men employ their reason to

defend  conclusions  arrived  at  by  reason,  but conclusions arrived

at by the passions are defended by the passions.

(7:8)  If  we  would separate ourselves from the crowd and escape from

theological  prejudices,  instead of rashly accepting human commen-

taries  for  Divine  documents,  we  must consider the true method of

interpreting  Scripture  and  dwell  upon  it  at  some  length: for if we

remain in ignorance of this we cannot know, certainly, what the Bible
and the Holy Spirit wish to teach.

(7:9)  I  may sum up the matter by saying that the method of interpreting
scientific method }
Scripture does not widely differ from the method of interpreting Nature
—in fact,  it is almost the same.  (10) For as the interpretation of Nature

consists  in  the  examination  of  the history of Nature, and therefrom
deducing  definitions  of  natural  phenomena on certain fixed axioms,

so  Scriptural interpretation proceeds by the examination of Scripture,

and  inferring  the  intention  of  its authors as a legitimate conclusion

from its fundamental principles.  (7:11) By working in this manner every-

one  will  always  advance without danger of error—that is, if they ad-

mit no principles for interpreting Scripture, and discussing its contents

save such as they find in Scripture itself—and will be able with equal

security  to  discuss  what   page 100  surpasses our understanding, and
what is known by the natural light of reason.

(7:12)  In  order  to  make  clear  that  such a method is not only correct,

but  is  also  the  only  one  advisable,  and  that  it  agrees  with that

employed  in  interpreting  Nature,  I  must remark that Scripture very

often  treats  of  matters  which  cannot  be  deduced from principles

known  to  reason:  for  it is chiefly made up of narratives and revela-

tion:  the  narratives  generally contain miracles—that is, as we have

shown  in  the  last chapter,  relations of extraordinary natural occur-

rences  adapted  to  the opinions and judgment of the historians who

recorded  them: the revelations also were adapted to the opinions of

the  prophets,  as  we  showed  in  Chap. II.,  and  in themselves sur-

passed  human  comprehension.  (7:13) Therefore the knowledge of all

these—that  is,  of  nearly  the  whole  contents of Scripture, must be
sought  from  Scripture  alone,  even  as  the knowledge of Nature is
sought  from  nature (7:14)  As  for  the  moral doctrines which are also           Moral agent 

contained  in  the  Bible,  they  may  be  demonstrated from received

axioms,  but  we  cannot  prove  in  the  same  manner that Scripture

intended to teach them, this can only be learned from Scripture itself.

(7:15)  If  we  would  bear  unprejudiced  witness  to the Divine origin of

Scripture,  we  must  prove solely on its own authority that it teaches

true  moral  doctrines,  for by such means alone can its Divine origin

be  demonstrated:  we have shown that the certitude of the prophets

depended  chiefly  on  their having minds turned towards what is just

and  good,  therefore we ought to have proof of their possessing this

quality  before  we  repose  faith  in  them.  (7:16)  From  miracles God's

divinity  cannot  be  proved,  as  I have already shown, and need not

now   repeat,   for  miracles  could   be   wrought  by  false  prophets.

(7:17) Wherefore the Divine origin of Scripture must consist solely in its

teaching  true virtue (7:18) But we must come to our conclusion simply

on  Scriptural  grounds,  for  if we were unable to do so we could not,

unless  strongly  prejudiced  accept the Bible and bear witness to its

Divine origin.

(7:19) Our  knowledge of Scripture must then be looked for in Scripture


(7:20) Lastly,  Scripture does not give us definition of things   page 101  any           Parkinson:2601

more than Nature does: therefore, such definitions must be sought in

in  the  latter  case  from the diverse workings of nature; in the former

case,  from  the  various  narratives  about  the  given  subject  which

occur in the Bible.

(7:21)  The  universal  rule,  then,  in  interpreting Scripture is to accept

nothing  as  an  authoritative  Scriptural  statement  which we do not
perceive  very  clearly  when  we  examine it in the light of its history.

(7:22)  What  I  mean by its history, and what should be the chief points

elucidated, I will now explain.

(7:23) The history of a Scriptural statement comprises—

    (7:23a)  The  nature  and  properties  of  the  language  in which the

books  of  the  Bible  were  written,  and in which their authors were,

accustomed  to  speak.   (7:24)  We  shall  thus  be  able to investigate

every   expression   by   comparison   with  common  conversational


I.  Continued
The Hebrew Bible,}
(7:25)  Now  all  the writers both of  ^  the Old Testament, and the New
Bk.XIA:6439; Bk.XIX:10512.
were  Hebrews:  therefore,  a  knowledge of the Hebrew language is

before  all  things  necessary,  not only for the comprehension of the
The Hebrew Bible and the, }
Old  Testament,  which  was  written  in  that  tongue, but also of the

New:  for  although  the  latter was published in other languages, yet
its characteristics are Hebrew.

   (7:26)  An  analysis  of  each  book  and arrangement of its contents

under  heads;  so  that we may have at hand the various texts which

treat of a given subject.  (7:27) Lastly, a note of all the passages which
are  ambiguous  or  obscure,  or  which seem mutually contradictory.

II.  Continued

 (7:28)  I  call  passages  clear or obscure according as their meaning is

inferred  easily  or with difficulty in relation to the context, not accord-

ing  as  their  truth  is  perceived  easily  or  the  reverse  by  reason.

(7:29)  We  are  at work not on the truth of passages, but solely on their

meaning.  (7:30)  We  must  take  especial care, when we are in search
of  the  meaning  of a text, not to be led away by our reason in so far

as  it  is  founded  on principles of natural knowledge (to say nothing

of  prejudices):  in  order  not  to confound the meaning of a passage

with  its  truth,  we  must  examine it solely by means of the significa-
tion  of  the  words, or by a reason acknowledging no foundation but


II.  Continued

(7:31)  I will illustrate my meaning by an example.  (32) The words  page 102
{Exo 3:2}                {Exo 20:5, Exo 34:14}
of  Moses, "God is a fire" and "God is jealous," are perfectly clear so               Metaphors

long  as  we regard merely the signification of the words, and I there-

fore  reckon  them  among  the  clear passages, though in relation to

reason  and  truth  they  are  most  obscure:
 still, although the literal

meaning  is  repugnant  to  the  natural  light of reason, nevertheless,

if  it  cannot  be  clearly  overruled on grounds and principles derived

from  its  Scriptural  "history,"  it,  that  is, the literal meaning, must be

the  one  retained:  and  contrariwise if these passages literally inter-

preted  are  found  to  clash  with  principles  derived  from Scripture,

though  such  literal  interpretation  were  in  absolute  harmony  with

reason,  they   must   be   interpreted   in   a   different   manner,   i.e. 


II.  Continued

(7:33)  If  we  would  know  whether Moses believed God to be a fire or

not,  we  must  on no account decide the question on grounds of the
Bk.XIA:79118; Bk.XX:27995.
reasonableness  or  the  reverse  of such an opinion, but must judge

solely by the other opinions of Moses which are on record.

II.  Continued

(7:34)  In  the  present   instance,   as   Moses   says   in  several  other

passages  that  God  has no likeness to any visible thing, whether in

heaven  or  in  earth,  or  in the water, either all such passages must

be  taken  metaphorically,  or  else  the  one  before  us  must  be so

explained.  (7:35)   However,  as  we  should depart as little as possible

from  the  literal  sense,  we must first ask whether this text, God is a

fire,  admits  of  any  but  the  literal  meaning—that  is,  whether  the

word   fire   ever   means   anything   besides   ordinary   natural  fire.

(7:36)  If  no  such  second  meaning  can  be  found,  the  text  must be

taken  literally,  however  repugnant  to  reason it may be: and all the

other  passages,  though  in complete accordance with reason, must

be   brought   into  harmony  with  it.   (7:37)  If  the  verbal  expressions

would  not  admit  of  being  thus  harmonized, we should have to set

them  down  as  irreconcilable,  and  suspend our judgment concern-

ing  them.  (7:38)  However,  as  we  find the name fire applied to anger

and  jealousy  (see  Job xxxi:12)  we  can  thus  easily  reconcile  the

words  of  Moses,  and  legitimately  conclude  that  the  two proposi-

tions  God  is  a  fire,  and  God  is  jealous,  are in meaning identical.

II.  Continued

(7:39) Further,  as  Moses  clearly  teaches  that  God  is  jealous,  and

nowhere  states  that  God is without passions or emotions, we must                  

evidently  infer  that  Moses  held  this  page 103 doctrine himself,  or  at
any rate, that he wished  ^  to  teach it,  nor must we refrain because

such  a  belief  seems  contrary  to  reason:  for  as  we  have shown,

we  cannot  wrest  the  meaning  of  texts  to  suit  the  dictates of our

,  or  our  preconceived  opinions. 
(7:40)  The  whole  knowledge

of the Bible must be sought solely from itself.

(7:41)  Lastly,  such a history should relate the environment of all the

prophetic  books extant; that is, the life, the conduct, and the studies

of  the  author  of  each  book,  who  he was, what was the occasion,

and  the  epoch  of  his  writing,  whom  did  he write for, and in what

(7:42)  Further,  it  should  inquire into the fate of each book:

how   it   was  first  received,  into  whose  hands  it  fell,  how  many

different  versions  there  were of it, by whose advice was it received

into  the Bible, and, lastly, how all the books now universally accept-
Bk.XIA:6441; Bk.XX:27996.
ed as sacred, were united into a single whole.

III.  Continued

(7:43)  All  such  information should, as I have said, be contained in the

"history"  of  Scripture. 
(44) For, in order to know what statements are

set  forth  as  laws,  and what as moral precepts, it is important to be

acquainted  with  the  life,   the  conduct,  and  the  pursuits  of  their

author:  moreover,  it  becomes  easier to explain a man's writings in

proportion  as  we  have  more intimate knowledge of his genius and

III.  Continued

(7:45) Further,  that  we  may  not confound precepts which are eternal

with  those  which  served  only  a  temporary  purpose, or were only

meant  for  a   few, we should know what was the occasion, the time,

the  age,  in  which each book was written, and to what nation it was


III.  Continued

(7:46)  Lastly,  we  should  have  knowledge  on the other points I have

mentioned,  in  order to be sure, in addition to the authenticity of the

work,  that  it  has not been tampered with by sacrilegious hands, or

whether  errors  can  have  crept  in,  and,  if  so, whether they have

been  corrected  by  men  sufficiently skilled and worthy of credence.

(47)  All  these  things  should  be known, that we may not be led away

by  blind  impulse to accept whatever is thrust on our notice, instead

of only that which is sure and indisputable.

(7:48)  Now when we are in possession of this history of Scripture, and

have  finally  decided  that  we  assert  nothing as prophetic doctrine

which  does  not  directly follow from such
 page 104  history, or which is

not  clearly  deducible  from  it,  then,  I say, it will be time to gird our-

selves  for  the  task of investigating the mind of the prophets and of

the  Holy Spirit.
  (7:49) But in this further arguing, also, we shall require

a  method  very  like  that  employed  in  interpreting nature from her

(7:50)  As in the examination of natural phenomena we try first
to  investigate  what  is  most  universal  and common to all nature—
such,  for  instance,  as  motion  and  rest,  and  their laws and rules,

which  nature  always  observes,  and through which she continually

works—and  then  we  proceed  to  what is less universal; so, too, in

the  history  of Scripture,  we  seek first for that which is most univer-

sal,  and  serves  for  the  basis  and  foundation  of  all  Scripture, a

doctrine,  in  fact,  that  is commended by all the prophets as eternal
and  most  profitable  to  all  men.  (7:51)  For example, that God is one,

and  that  He  is  omnipotent,  that  He  alone should be worshipped,

that  He  has  a  care for all men, and that He especially loves those 
Bk.XIA:80126; Bk.XX:28097. 
who   adore   Him   and   love   their  neighbour  as  themselves,  &c.           Golden Rule

(7:52)  These  and  similar doctrines,  I repeat, Scripture everywhere so

clearly  and  expressly  teaches, that no one was ever in doubt of its
meaning concerning them.

(7:53)  The  nature  of  God, His manner of regarding and providing for

things,  and  similar  doctrines,  Scripture  nowhere teaches profess-

edly  {?, Ps. 145:16},  and  as  eternal  doctrine; on the contrary, we

have  shown  that  the  prophets  themselves  did  not  agree on the

subject;  therefore,  we must not lay down any doctrine as Scriptural

on  such  subjects,  though  it may appear perfectly clear on rational


(7:54)  From  a proper knowledge of this universal doctrine of Scripture,

we  must  then  proceed to other doctrines less universal, but which,

nevertheless,  have  regard  to  the  general conduct of life, and flow

from  the  universal  doctrine  like rivulets from a source;
such are all

particular  external  manifestations of true virtue, which need a given

occasion  for  their  exercise;  whatever is obscure or ambiguous on

such points in Scripture must be explained and defined by its univer-

sal doctrine; with regard to contradictory instances, we must observe
the  occasion  and  the  time  in  which  they  were  written.   (7:55)   For
Bk.XIA:80123Matt. 5:4.
instance,  when  Christ  says, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they

shall  be  comforted"   page 105   we  do  not  know,   from   the   actual

passage,  what  sort  of  mourners  are  meant;  as,  however, Christ

afterwards  teaches  that  we  should  have  care  for  nothing,  save

only  for  the  kingdom  of God and His righteousness, which is com-

mended  as  the  highest  good  (see Matt. vi. 33),  it  follows  that by

mourners  He  only  meant those who mourn for the kingdom of God

and  righteousness  neglected  by  man:  for  this  would be the only

cause  of  mourning  to  those  who love nothing but the Divine king-
dom  and  justice,  and  who  evidently  despise  the  gifts of fortune.
Matt. 5:39    Bk.XIA:80124Lam. 3:25-30.
(7:56)  So,  too,  when  Christ says: "But if a man strike you on the right
cheek,   turn  to  him  the  left  also,"   and  the  words  which  follow.

(7:57)  If  He  had  given such a command, as a lawgiver, to judges, He

would   thereby  have  abrogated  the  law  of  Moses,   but  this  He

expressly  says  He  did  not  do (Matt. v:17).
 (58) Wherefore we must

consider who was the speaker, what was the occasion, and to whom

were  the  words  addressed. 
(7:59)  Now  Christ  said  that  He did not

ordain  laws  as  a  legislator,  but  inculcated precepts as a teacher:

inasmuch  as  He  did not aim at correcting outward actions so much
as  the frame of mind.  (7:60) Further, these words were spoken to men

who  were  oppressed,  who lived in a corrupt commonwealth on the

brink  of  ruin,  where  justice  was  utterly neglected. 
(7:61)  The  very

doctrine  inculcated  here by Christ just before the destruction of the

city  was  also  taught  by  Jeremiah  before  the  first  destruction of

Jerusalem,    that   is,   in  similar  circumstances,   as  we  see  from

Lamentations iii:25-30.

(7:62) Now as such teaching was only set forth by the prophets in times

of  oppression, and was even then never laid down as a law; and as,

on  the  other hand, Moses (who did not write in times of oppression,
but—mark this—strove   to   found   a well-ordered  commonwealth),             Constitution

while condemning envy and hatred of one's neighbour, yet ordained

that  an  eye  should be given for an eye, it follows most clearly from

these   purely  Scriptural  grounds  that  this  precept  of  Christ  and

Jeremiah  concerning submission to injuries was only valid in places

where justice is neglected, and in a time of oppression, but does not             
Martyr Laws

hold good in a well-ordered state.

 In  a  well-ordered state where justice is administered every one

is  bound,   if  he  would  be  accounted  just,  to  demand  penalties

before  the  judge  (see Lev:19:15),  not for the   page 106   sake of ven-

geance  (Lev.  xix:17, 18),  but  in  order  to  defend  justice  and  his

country's  laws,  and  to  prevent the wicked rejoicing in their wicked-

ness.   (64)  All  this  is  plainly  in accordance with reason.  (7:65)  I might

cite  many  other  examples  in the same manner, but I think the fore-

going  are  sufficient  to  explain  my  meaning  and  the utility of this

method,  and  this  is  all my present purpose.  (7:66)  Hitherto we have

only  shown  how  to  investigate those passages of Scripture which

treat  of  practical conduct,  and  which,  therefore,  are  more easily

examined,  for  on  such  subjects there was never really any contro-               Sacred

versy among the writers of the Bible.

(7:67)  The  purely  speculative passages cannot be so easily traced to

their  real  meaning: the way becomes narrower, for as the prophets
differed in matters speculative among themselves, and the narratives
are in great measure adapted to the prejudices of each age, we must

not,  on  any  account  infer the intention of one prophet from clearer

passages  in  the  writings  of  another;  nor  must  we  so explain his

meaning,  unless  it  is  perfectly  plain that the two prophets were at

one in the matter.

(7:68)  How  we  are  to  arrive  at  the intention of the prophets in such

cases I will briefly explain.
(69) Here, too, we must begin from the most

universal  proposition,  inquiring  first  from  the most clear Scriptural

statements what is the nature of prophecy or revelation, and wherein

does it consist;
then we must proceed to miracles, and so on to what-

ever  is  most  general  till  we  come  to  the  opinions of a particular

prophet,  and,  at  last,  to  the  meaning  of  a  particular  revelation,

prophecy,  history, or miracle. 
(7:70) We have already pointed out that

great  caution is necessary not to confound the mind of a prophet or

historian  with  the mind of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the matter;

therefore I need not dwell further on the subject. 
(71) I would, however,

here  remark  concerning  the meaning of revelation, that the present

method  only  teaches us what the prophets really saw or heard, not

what  they desired to signify or represent by symbols.
  (7:72) The latter

may   be   guessed  at  but  cannot  be  inferred  with  certainty  from

Scriptural premises.

(7:73) We  have  thus  shown  the  plan  for  interpreting Scripture, and

have,  at  the  same  time, demonstrated that it is the one and surest

way  of  investigating  its  true  meaning.    (7:74)   I  am   page 107   willing

indeed  to  admit that those persons (if any such there be) would be

more  absolutely  certainly  right,  who  have  received either a trust-

worthy  tradition  or  an  assurance  from  the  prophets  themselves,

such  as  is  claimed  by  the  Pharisees; or who have a pontiff gifted

with  infallibility  in the interpretation of Scripture, such as the Roman

Catholics  boast.  (7:75)  But  as  we can never be perfectly sure, either

of  such  a tradition or of the authority of the pontiff, we cannot found

any  certain  conclusion  on  either:  the  one  is denied by the oldest

sect  of Christians, the other by the oldest sect of Jews. 
(7:76)  Indeed,

if   we   consider  the  series  of  years  (to  mention  no  other  point)

accepted  by  the  Pharisees  from  their  Rabbis,  during which time

they  say  they  have  handed  down  the tradition  from  Moses,  we

shall  find  that  it is not correct, as I show elsewhere.
  (7:77) Therefore

such  a  tradition  should  be  received  with  extreme suspicion; and

although,  according  to  our  method,  we  are bound to consider as

uncorrupted  the  tradition  of  the  Jews, namely, the meaning of the

Hebrew  words  which  we  received  from  them, we may accept the

latter while retaining our doubts about the former.

(7:78)  No  one  has  ever  been  able to change the meaning of a word

in  ordinary  use,  though  many  have  changed  the  meaning  of  a

particular  sentence.  (7:79)  Such a proceeding would be most difficult;

for  whoever  attempted  to change the meaning of a word, would be

compelled,   at   the   same   time,   to   explain  all  the authors  who

employed  it,  each  according  to  his temperament and intention, or

else, with consummate cunning, to falsify them.

(7:80)  Further,  the  masses  and  the learned alike preserve language,

but  it  is  only  the  learned  who  preserve the meaning of particular

sentences  and  books:
thus, we may easily imagine that the learned

having  a  very rare book in their power, might change or corrupt the

meaning  of a sentence in it, but they could not alter the signification

of the words; moreover, if anyone wanted to change the meaning of

a common word he would not be able to keep up the change among
Bk.XIA:74 99.
posterity, or in common parlance or writing.

(7:81) For  these and such-like reasons we may readily conclude that it

would  never  enter  into  the  mind  of anyone to corrupt a language,

though the intention of a writer may  
page 108  often have been falsified

by changing his phrases or interpreting them amiss. 
(7:82) As then our

method (based on the principle that the knowledge of Scripture must
be  sought  from  itself alone) is the sole true one, we must evidently

renounce  any  knowledge  which  it  cannot furnish for the complete

understanding  of  Scripture. 
(7:83)  I  will  now  point out its difficulties

and   shortcomings,   which   prevent  our  gaining  a  complete  and

assured knowledge of the Sacred Text.

(7:84)  Its  first  great difficulty consists in its requiring a thorough know-
ledge  of  the  Hebrew language.  (85) Where is such knowledge to be

(7:86)  The  men  of  old  who  employed the Hebrew tongue

have  left  none of the principles and bases of their language to pos-

terity; we have from them absolutely nothing in the way of dictionary,

grammar, or rhetoric.

(7:87) Now the Hebrew nation has lost all its grace and beauty (as one

would expect after the defeats and persecutions it has gone through),

and has only retained certain fragments of its language and of a few

(88) Nearly all the names of fruits, birds, and fishes, and many

other words have perished in the wear and tear of time. 
(7:89) Further,

the  meaning  of many nouns and verbs which occur in the Bible are

either  utterly  lost,  or  are subjects of dispute.  
(7:90)  And not only are
these  gone,  but we are lacking in a knowledge of   Hebrew phrase-
Biblical ^ }
ology.   (7:91)  The  devouring  tooth  of  time  has  destroyed  turns  of

expression  peculiar to the Hebrews, so that we know them no more.

(7:92)  Therefore  we  cannot investigate as we would all the meanings

of  a  sentence  by  the  uses  of  the  language; and there are many

phrases of which the meaning is most obscure or altogether inexplic-

able, though the component words are perfectly plain.

(7:93) To this impossibility of tracing the history of the Hebrew language

must  be added its particular nature and composition: these give rise

to  so  many  ambiguities  that it is impossible to find a method which

would  enable us to gain a certain knowledge of all the statements in

Scripture (7)
(94) In addition to the sources of ambiguities common to

all languages, there are many peculiar to Hebrew. 
(7:95) These, I think,

it worth while to mention.

(7:96)  Firstly,  an  ambiguity  often arises in the Bible from our   page 109

mistaking  one letter for another similar one.  (97) The Hebrews divide

the  letters  of  the  alphabet  into  five  classes, according to the five

organs of the month employed in pronouncing them, namely, the lips,

the  tongue,  the  teeth,  the palate, and the throat. 
(7:98) For instance,

Alpha,  Ghet, Hgain, He, {Strong: aw'-leph, khayth, ah'-yin, hayare

called  gutturals,  and  are  barely  distinguishable,  by  any sign that

we  know, one from the other.  (7:99)   Ale {Strong: 413}, which signifies

"to",  is often taken for al, {Strong:5921}, which signifies "above", and

vice versâ.  (7:100)  Hence sentences are often rendered rather ambigu-

ous or meaningless.

(7:101)   A   second   difficulty   arises  from  the  multiplied  meaning  of

conjunctions and adverbs. (7:102)  For instance, vau{v}, {see Gesenius}

serves   promiscuously   for   a  particle  of  union  or  of  separation,

meaning,  and, but, because, however, then:  ki, {kee, Strong:3588},

has  seven  or  eight  meanings,  namely,   wherefore,  although,  if,

when, inasmuch as, because, a burning, &c., and so on with almost

all particles.

(7:103)  The  third  very  fertile  source  of doubt is the fact that Hebrew

verbs  in  the  indicative  mood  lack  the present, the past imperfect,

the  pluperfect,  the  future perfect, and other tenses most frequently

employed  in other languages; in the imperative and infinitive moods

they  are  wanting  in all except the present, and a subjunctive mood

does  not  exist.
  (7:104)  Now,  although all these defects in moods and

tenses  may  be supplied  by  certain  fundamental  rules  of the lan-

guage  with  ease  and  even elegance, the ancient writers evidently

neglected  such  rules  altogether,  and employed indifferently future

for  present  and past, and vice versâ past for future, and also indic-

ative  for  imperative and subjunctive, with the result of considerable


(7:105)  Besides  these  sources  of ambiguity there are two others, one

very important. 
(106)  Firstly, there are in Hebrew no vowels; secondly,

the   sentences  are  not  separated  by  any  marks  elucidating  the

meaning  or  separating the clauses. 
(7:107) Though the want of these

two has generally been supplied by points and accents, such substi-

tutes  cannot  be  accepted  by  us, inasmuch as they were invented

and   designed   by  men  of  an  after  age  whose  authority  should

carry  no  weight.  
(7:108)  The  ancients  wrote  without points (that  is,

without   vowels   and   accents),   as  is  abundantly  testified;  their

descendants,  {Masoretics:  a  body  of  scribal  notes  that  form  a

textual  guide  to  the  Hebrew Bible, compiled  from the 6th to 10th

added what was lacking, according  to their own
  page 110

ideas of Scriptural  interpretation; wherefore the existing accents and
points  are simply current interpretations, and are  no more authorita-

tive than any other commentaries.

(7:109)  Those  who are ignorant of this fact cannot justify the author of

the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews  for  interpreting  (chap. xi:21) Genesis

 very  differently  from  the version given in our Hebrew text

as  at  present  pointed,  as  though the Apostle had been obliged to

learn  the  meaning  of  Scripture  from  those  who added the points.

(7:110) In my opinion the latter are clearly wrong. (111) In order that every-

one may judge for himself,  and also see how the discrepancy arose

simply  from  the  want  of  vowels,   I  will  give  both  interpretations.

(7:112) Those  who  pointed  our  version read, "And Israel bent himself

over,  or  (changing  Hqain  into  Aleph, a similar letter) towards, the

head  of  the bed."  (7:113)  The author of the Epistle reads, "And Israel

bent himself over the head of his staff," substituting  mate, {mat-teh',

Strong:4294-staff}, for mita, {mit-taw', Strong:4296-bed}, from which

it only
differs in respect of vowels. 
(7:114)  Now as  in this narrative it is

Jacob's  age only that is in question, and not his illness, which is not

touched  on  till the next chapter, it seems more likely that the histor-

ian  intended  to  say  that  Jacob  bent  over  the head of his staff (a

thing  commonly  used  by  men  of  advanced  age for their support)

than  that  he bowed himself at the head of his bed, especially as for

the  former  reading no substitution of letters is required.  (7:115) In this

example  I  have  desired  not  only  to  reconcile the passage in the

Epistle with the passage in Genesis, but also and chiefly to illustrate

how little trust should be placed in the points and accents which are

found  in  our  present  Bible,  and so to prove that he who would be

without  bias  in  interpreting Scripture should hesitate about accept-

ing them, and inquire afresh for himself.   (7:116) Such being the nature
and  structure  of  the Hebrew language, one may easily understand

that many difficulties are likely to arise, and that no possible method

could  solve  all  of  them.  (7:117)  It is useless to hope for a way out of

our  difficulties  in  the  comparison of various parallel passages (we

have  shown that the only method of discovering the true sense of a

passage out of many alternative ones is to see what are the usages

of  the  language), for this comparison of parallel passages can only

accidentally  throw   page 111  light  on  a  difficult point, seeing that the

prophets never wrote with the express object of explaining their own

phrases or those of other people, and also because we cannot infer

the  meaning  of  one  prophet or apostle by the meaning of another,

unless  on a purely practical question, not when the matter is specu-

lative,  or  if  a  miracle,  or history is being narrated.  (7:118) I might illu-

strate  my  point  with  instances,   for  there  are  many  inexplicable

phrases  in  Scripture,  but  I  would  rather  pass  on to consider the

difficulties   and   imperfections   of   the   method  under  discussion.

(7:119)  A  further  difficulty  attends  the  method,  from  the  fact  that it

requires  the  history  of  all  that  has happened to every book in the

Bible;  such  a history we are often quite unable to furnish.
(120) Of the

authors, or (if the expression be preferred), the writers of many of the

books,  we  are  either in complete ignorance, or at any rate in doubt,

as  I  will point out at length. 
(7:121) Further, we do not know either the

occasions  or  the epochs when these books of unknown authorship

were  written;  we  cannot say into what hands they fell, nor how the

numerous  varying  versions  originated;  nor,  lastly,  whether there

were not other versions, now lost.
  (122) I have briefly shown that such

knowledge  is  necessary,  but  I passed over certain considerations

which I will now draw attention to.

(7:123)  If  we  read  a  book  which  contains  incredible  or  impossible
narratives,  or  is  written  in  a  very  obscure  style, and if we know

nothing  of its author, nor of the time or occasion of its being written,

we  shall  vainly endeavour to gain any certain knowledge of its true

   (7:124)  For  being  in  ignorance  on these points we cannot

possibly  know  the  aim  or intended aim of the author; if we are fully

informed,  we  so  order  our  thoughts as not to be in any way preju-

diced  either  in  ascribing  to  the author or him for whom the author

wrote  either  more  or  less than his meaning, and we only take into

consideration  what  the  author  may  have  had in his mind, or what

the time and occasion demanded.
  (7:125)  I think this must be tolerably

evident to all.

(7:126)  It  often  happens  that  in  different  books  we read histories in

themselves similar, but which we judge very differently, according to

the  opinions  we  have formed of the authors.  (7:127) I remember once

to  have  read  in  some  book   page 112  that  a  man  named  Orlando
Furioso  used  to  drive  a  kind  of  winged  monster  through the air,

fly  over  any  countries  he  liked,  kill unaided vast numbers of men

and  giants,  and  such  like  fancies, which from the point of view of

reason are obviously absurd.  (7:128) A very similar story I read in Ovid

of  Perseus,  and  also in the books of Judges and Kings of Samson,

who alone and unarmed killed thousands of men, and of Elijah, who

flew  through  the  air,  said at last went up to heaven in a chariot of

fire,  with  horses  of  fire.  (7:129)  All  these stories are obviously alike,

but  we  judge  them  very  differently.  (7:130)  The  first  only sought to

amuse,  the second had a political object, the third a religious object.

 (7:131)  We  gather  this  simply  from  the  opinions we had previously

formed  of  the authors.  (7:132)  Thus it is evidently necessary to know

something  of  the  authors  of writings which are obscure or unintel-
ligible, if we would interpret their meaning; and for the same reason,

in  order  to  choose  the proper reading from among a great variety,

we  ought  to  have information as to the versions in which the differ-

ences  are  found,  and as to the possibility of other readings having

been discovered by persons of greater authority.

(7:133)   A  further  difficulty  attends this method in the case of some of

the  books  of  Scripture,  namely,  that  they are no longer extant in

their original language.  (133a) The Gospel according to Matthew, and

certainly  the  Epistle  to  the Hebrews, were written, it is thought, in

Hebrew,  though  they  no  longer  exist in that form.
  (7:134) Aben Ezra

affirms  in his commentaries that the book of Job was translated into
Hebrew  out  of  another language, and that its obscurity arises from

this   fact.
    (7:135)  I  say  nothing  of  the  apocryphal  books,  for  their

authority stands on very inferior ground.

(7:136) The foregoing difficulties in this method of interpreting Scripture

from its own history, I conceive to be so great that I do not hesitate to
say that the true meaning of Scripture is in many places inexplicable,

or at best mere subject for guesswork; but I must again point out, on

the  other  hand, that such difficulties only arise when we endeavour

to  follow  the  meaning  of a prophet in matters which cannot be per-

ceived,  but  only imagined, not in things, whereof the understanding

can give a clear idea, and which are conceivable through themselves:

(8) matters  
page 113  which  by  their nature are easily perceived cannot

be expressed so obscurely as to be unintelligible; as the proverb says,
"a word is enough to the wise.(7:137) Euclid, who only wrote of matters

very  simple  and easily understood, can easily be comprehended by

anyone in any language; we can follow his intention perfectly, and be

certain  of his true meaning, without having a thorough knowledge of

the language in which he wrote; in fact, a quite rudimentary acquaint-

ance is sufficient.
  (7:138) We need make no researches concerning the

life,  the  pursuits,  or the habits of the author; nor need we inquire in

what  language,  nor when he wrote, nor the vicissitudes of his book,

nor  its  various  readings, nor how, nor by whose advice it has been


(7:139)  What  we  here say of Euclid might equally be said of any book

which  treats  of things by their nature perceptible: thus we conclude

that we can easily follow the intention of Scripture in moral questions,

from  the  history  we  possess  of  it,  and  we can be sure of its true


(7:140)   The  precepts  of  true  piety  are  expressed  in  very  ordinary
language, and are equally simple and easily understood. (141) Further,

as  true  salvation  and  blessedness  consist  in a true assent of the

soul—and  we truly assent only to what we clearly understand—it is

most plain that we can follow with certainty the intention of Scripture

in   matters   relating  to  salvation  and  necessary  to  blessedness;

therefore,   we  need  not  be  much  troubled  about  what  remains:

such  matters,  inasmuch  as  we  generally  cannot grasp them with

our  reason  and  understanding,  are  more  curious  than profitable.

(7:142)  I  think  I  have  now set forth the true method of Scriptural inter-

pretation,  and  have  sufficiently  explained my own opinion thereon.

(143) Besides, I do not doubt that everyone will see that such a method
only requires the aid of natural reason.  (7:144) The nature and efficacy

of  the natural reason consists in deducing and proving the unknown

from the known, or in carrying premises to their legitimate conclusions;

and  these  are  the  very  processes  which  our method desiderates.

(7:145)  Though  we  must admit that it does not suffice to explain every-

thing  in  the  Bible,  such  imperfection  does not spring from its own

nature, but from the fact that the path which it teaches us, as the true

one,  has
  page 114  never  been  tended  or  trodden  by men, and has
thus,  by  the lapse of time, become very difficult, and almost impass-

able,  as,  indeed,  I  have shown in the difficulties I draw attention to.

(7:146) There  only remains to examine the opinions of those who differ

from me.

(7:147) The first which comes under our notice is, that the light of nature

has no power to interpret Scripture, but that a supernatural faculty is

required  for the task. 
(148)  What is meant by this supernatural faculty

I  will  leave to its propounders to explain. 
(7:149) Personally, I can only

suppose  that they have adopted a very obscure way of stating their

complete uncertainty about the true meaning of Scripture.
  (7:150) If we

look   at   their   interpretations,  they  contain  nothing  supernatural,

at least nothing but the merest conjectures.

(7:151) Let them be placed side by side with the interpretations of those

who  frankly  confess  that  they have no faculty beyond their natural

ones; we shall see that the two are just alike—both human, both long

pondered over, both laboriously invented. 
(152) To say that the natural

reason  is  insufficient for such results is plainly untrue, firstly, for the

reasons   above   stated,  namely,  that  the  difficulty  of  interpreting

Scripture arises from no defect in human reason, but simply from the
                  Bk.XIA:80121—wicked conduct.
carelessness (not to say malice) of men who neglected the history of

the Bible while there were still materials for inquiry; secondly, from the

fact  (admitted, I think, by all) that the supernatural faculty is a Divine

gift  granted  only  to the faithful. 
(7:153)  But the prophets and apostles

did  not  preach  to  the  faithful only, but chiefly to the unfaithful and

(7:154)  Such  persons,  therefore, were able to understand the

intention  of  the  prophets and apostles, otherwise the prophets and

apostles would have seemed to be preaching to little boys and infants,

not  to men endowed with reason.
  (155) Moses, too, would have given

his  laws  in  vain, if they could only be comprehended by the faithful,

who  need  no  law
(7:156) Indeed,  those  who  demand  supernatural

faculties   for   comprehending   the  meaning  of  the  prophets  and

apostles  seem  truly  lacking  in  natural faculties, so that we should

hardly  suppose  such  persons  the  possessors  of  a  Divine super-

natural gift.

(7:157)  The opinion of Maimonides, {Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204,

physician, philosopher and jurist.}, was widely different.  page 115   (7:158)  

He  asserted  that each passage in Scripture admits of various, nay,
Bk.XIA:7497, 98.
contrary,   meanings;   but  that  we could  never  be  certain  of  any

particular  one  till  we  knew  that  the passage, as we interpreted it,

contained nothing contrary or repugnant to reason
(7:159)  If the literal

meaning  clashes  with  reason,  though the passage seems in itself

perfectly  clear,  it  must  be interpreted in some metaphorical sense.

(7:160)  This  doctrine  he  lays down very plainly in chap. xxv. part ii. of
Bk.XIA:75101, 102, 103, & 104 .
his  book,  "More Nebuchim,"  for  he says: "Know that we shrink not

from  affirming  that  the world hath existed from eternity, because of

what  Scripture  saith  concerning the world's creation. 
(7:161)  For  the

texts which teach that the world was created are not more in number

than  those  which  teach  that  God  hath  a  body;  neither  are  the

approaches  in  this  matter  of  the  world's creation closed, or even

made  hard  to  us:  so  that we should not be able to explain what is

written,  as  we  did  when  we  showed that God hath no body, nay,

peradventure,  we  could  explain  and  make fast the doctrine of the

world's eternity more easily than we did away with the doctrines that

God hath a beatified body.
(7:162) Yet two things hinder me from doing
    Bk.XIA:75101, 102, 103, 104 & 105.
as I have said, and believing that the world is eternal. (7:163) As it hath

been  clearly  shown  that  God  hath  not  a body, we must perforce

explain all those passages whereof the literal sense agreeth not with

the  demonstration,  for  sure  it  is  that  they  can  be  so explained.

(7:164)  But  the  eternity  of  the  world hath not been so demonstrated,

therefore it is not necessary to do violence to Scripture in support of

some  common  opinion, whereof we might, at the bidding of reason,

embrace the contrary.

(7:165)  Such  are  the  words  of  Maimonides,  and  they are evidently

sufficient  to  establish  our  point:  for  if  he had been convinced by
reason that the world is eternal, he would not have hesitated to twist

and explain away the words of Scripture till he made them appear to

teach  this doctrine. 
(166) He would have felt quite sure that Scripture,

though  everywhere  plainly  denying  the eternity of the world, really
Bk.XIA:7184, 7498.
intends  to  teach  it.  (7:167)  So  that,  however  clear  the  meaning of

Scripture  may  be,  he  would  not  feel  certain of having grasped it,
so  long  as  he  remained  doubtful  of the truth of what was written.

(7:168)  For  we  are  in  doubt  whether a  thing  is  page 116 in conformity

with  reason,  or  contrary thereto, so long as we are uncertain of its

truth,  and,  consequently,  we  cannot  be  sure  whether  the literal

meaning of a passage be true or false.

(7:169)  If  such a theory as this were sound, I would certainly grant that

some  faculty  beyond  the natural reason is required for interpreting

(7:170)  For  nearly all things that we find in Scripture cannot

be  inferred  from  known  principles  of  the natural reason  {but are

inferred from intuition}, and,  therefore, we should be unable to come

to any  conclusion  about their truth, or about  the  real meaning and

intention  of  Scripture,  but  should  stand   in  need  of some further


(7:171)  Further,  the  truth of this theory would involve that the masses,
having  generally  no  comprehension  of,  nor  leisure  for,  detailed

proofs,   would   be   reduced   to  receiving  all  their  knowledge  of

Scripture   on   the  authority  and  testimony  of  philosophers,  and,

consequently,  would  be  compelled  to suppose that the interpreta-

tions given by philosophers were infallible.

(7:172) Truly this would be a new form of ecclesiastical authority, and a

new sort of priests or pontiffs, more likely to excite men's ridicule than
their  veneration.  (173) Certainly our method demands a knowledge of

Hebrew for which the masses have no leisure; but no such objection

as  the  foregoing  can  be brought against us.  (7:174)  For the ordinary

Jews or Gentiles, to whom the prophets and apostles preached and

wrote, understood the language, and, consequently, the intention of

the  prophet  or  apostle addressing them; but they did not grasp the

intrinsic   reason   of   what   was   preached,   which,   according  to
Maimonides,   would   be   necessary   for   an  understanding  of  it.

(7:175)  There  is  nothing,  then, in our method which renders it neces-
sary  that  the  masses should follow the testimony of commentators,

for  I  point  to  a  set  of  unlearned  people who understood the lan-

guage of the prophets and apostles; whereas Maimonides could not

point  to  any  such  who  could  arrive  at  the prophetic or apostolic

meaning    through   their   knowledge   of   the   causes   of   things.

(7:176) As to the multitude of our own time, we have shown that whatso-

ever is necessary to salvation,  though its reasons may be unknown,

can  easily  be  understood  in  any  language,   
page 117   because it is
thoroughly ordinary and usual; it is in such understanding as this that

the  masses  acquiesce,  not  in  the testimony of commentators; with            

regard  to  other  questions,  the  ignorant  and the learned fare alike.

(7:177)  But  let  us  return to the opinion of Maimonides, and examine it

more  closely.
(177a)  In  the  first place, he supposes that the prophets

were  in  entire  agreement  one  with  another,  and  that  they were

consummate philosophers and theologians; for he would have them

to have based their conclusions on the absolute truth.   (7:178)  Further,

he  supposes that the sense of Scripture cannot be made plain from

Scripture  itself,  for  the  truth  of things is not made plain therein (in

that  it  does  not  prove  any thing,  nor teach the matters of which it

speaks through their definitions and first causes), therefore, accord-

ing  to  Maimonides,  the  true  sense  of  Scripture  cannot be made

plain from itself, and must not be there sought.

(7:179)  The  falsity of such a doctrine is shown in this very chapter, for

we  have  shown  both by reason and examples that the meaning of

Scripture  is  only  made  plain  through  Scripture itself, and even in

questions  deducible  from ordinary knowledge should be looked for

from no other source.

(7:180) Lastly,  such  a theory supposes that we may explain the words

of  Scripture  according  to our preconceived opinions, twisting them

about,  and  reversing or completely changing the literal sense, how-

ever  plain  it  may be. 
(7:181)  Such  licence  is  utterly  opposed to the

teaching  of  this and the preceding chapters, and, moreover, will be

evident to everyone as rash and excessive.

(7:182)  But  if  we  grant  all  this  licence,  what  can  it  effect after all?

Absolutely nothing.  (7:183)  Those  things which cannot be demonstrat-

ed,  and  which  make  up  the  greater  part  of Scripture, cannot be

examined by reason, and cannot therefore be explained or interpret-

ed  by  this  rule;  whereas,  on  the  contrary,  by  following our own

method,  we can explain many questions of this nature, and discuss

them  on  a  sure  basis,  as we have already shown, by reason and

example.   (7:184)  Those matters which are by their nature comprehen-

sible  we  can  easily  explain,  as  has  been  pointed out, simply by

means of the context.

(7:185)  Therefore,   the   method   of   Maimonides  is  clearly  useless:

 page 118  to which we may add,  that it does away with all the certainty

which  the  masses acquire by candid reading, or which is gained by

any  other  persons  in  any  other way.  (7:186)  In conclusion, then, we
dismiss   Maimonides'   theory   as   harmful,   useless,  and  absurd.

(7:187) As to the tradition of the Pharisees, we have already shown that

it  is  not consistent, while the authority of the popes of Rome stands

in  need  of more credible evidence; the latter, indeed, I reject simply

on  this ground, for if the popes could point out to us the meaning of

Scripture  as  surely as did the high priests of the Jews, I should not

be  deterred  by  the  fact  that  there have been heretic and impious

Roman pontiffs; for among the Hebrew high-priests of old there were

also  heretics  and  impious  men who gained the high-priesthood by

improper means,  but  who, nevertheless, had Scriptural sanction for

their  supreme  power  of  interpreting the law. (See Deut. xvii:11, 12,

and xxxiii:10, also Malachi ii:8.)

(7:188) However, as the popes can show no such sanction, their author-

ity remains open to very grave doubt, nor should anyone be deceived

by the example of the Jewish high-priests and think that the Catholic

religion  also  stands in need of a pontiff; he should bear in mind that

the  laws  of  Moses  being  also  the  ordinary  laws  of  the  country,

necessarily required some public authority to insure their observance;

for,  if  everyone  were  free to interpret the laws of his country as he

pleased,  no  state  could  stand,  but  would  for that very reason be

dissolved  at  once,  and  public  rights  would become private rights.

(7:189) With religion the case is widely different. Inasmuch as it consists
Bk.XIA:81130—sincerity of heart.
not so much in outward actions as in simplicity and truth of character,

it stands outside the sphere of law and public authority. 
(190) Simplicity

and truth of character are not produced by the constraint of laws, nor

by  the  authority  of  the  state,  no one the whole world over can be

forced  or  legislated into a state of blessedness; the means required

for such a consummation are faithful and brotherly admonition, sound

education,   and,   above   all,   free  use  of  the  individual judgment.

(7:191)Therefore, as the supreme right of free thinking, even on religion,

is in every man's power,  and as it is inconceivable
   page 119  that such
power could be alienated, it is also in every man's power to wield the

supreme  right  and  authority  of  free judgment in this behalf, and to
Bk.XIA:81134,15346; Bk.XX:28097.  
explain  and  interpret  religion  for  himself.  (7:192) The only reason for
vesting  the  supreme  authority in the interpretation of law, and judg-

ment  on  public  affairs  in  the  hands  of  the  magistrates,  is that it

concerns questions of public right.
  (7:193) Similarly the supreme author-

ity  in explaining religion, and in passing judgment thereon, is lodged

with  the  individual  because it concerns questions of individual right.

(7:194) So far, then, from the authority of the Hebrew high-priests telling

in  confirmation  of  the  authority  of  the  Roman pontiffs to interpret

religion,  it  would  rather tend to establish individual freedom of judg-

(7:195) Thus in this way also, we have shown that our method of

interpreting  Scripture  is  the best. 
(7:196)  For as the highest power of

Scriptural interpretation belongs to every man, the rule for such inter-

pretation  should  be  nothing  but the natural light of reason which is
Bk.XIA:78115; Bk.XX:27892.
common  to all—not any supernatural light nor any external authority;

moreover,  such  a  rule ought not to be so difficult that it can only be

applied  by  very  skilful  philosophers,  but should be adapted to the
natural and ordinary faculties and capacity of mankind.  (197) And such

I  have  shown  our  method  to be, for such difficulties as it has arise

from men's carelessness, and are no part of its nature.

Page 120

(8:1) In the former chapter we treated of the foundations and principles

of Scriptural knowledge, and showed that it consists solely in a trust-

worthy  history  of  the  sacred  writings;  such a history, in spite of its

indispensability, the ancients neglected, or at any rate, whatever they

may  have  written  or handed down has perished in the lapse of time,

consequently  the  groundwork for such an investigation is to a great

extent, cut from under us. 
(8:2) This might be put up with if succeeding

generations  had  confined  themselves within the limits of truth, and

had  handed  down  conscientiously  what  few  particulars they had

received  or  discovered  without any additions from their own brains:

as  it  is,  the history of the Bible is not so much imperfect as untrust-

worthy:  the  foundations  are  not  only  too scanty for building upon,

but  are  also  unsound. 
(8:3)  It  is part of my purpose to remedy these

defects,  and to remove common theological prejudices. 
(4) But I fear

that  I  am  attempting  my  task  too late, for men have arrived at the

pitch  of  not  suffering contradiction, but defending obstinately what-

ever  they  have  adopted  under  the  name of religion
(5) So widely

have  these  prejudices  taken possession of men's minds, that very

few, comparatively speaking, will listen to reason
(8:6) However, I will

make  the  attempt,  and  spare no  efforts,  for  there  is  no positive

reason for despairing of success.

(8:7)  In  order  to  treat  the  subject  methodically,  I will begin with the

received  opinions  concerning the true authors of the sacred books,

and  in  the first place, speak of the author of the Pentateuch, who is

almost  universally supposed to have been Moses.
  (8) The Pharisees

are  so firmly convinced of his identity, that they account as a heretic

anyone  who  differs  from them on the subject. 
(8:9) Wherefore, Aben
Ezra,    page 121   a   man   of   enlightened  intelligence,  and  no  small
learning,  who  was  the first, so far as I know, to treat of this opinion,

dared  not  express his meaning openly, but confined himself to dark

hints  which  I  shall  not  scruple to elucidate, thus throwing, full light

on the subject.

(8:10)  The  words  of  Aben  Ezra  which  occur  in  his commentary on

Deuteronomy  are as follows: "Beyond Jordan, &c. . . . . If so be that

thou  understandest the mystery of the twelve . . . . moreover Moses

wrote  the law . . . . .The Canaanite was then in the land . . . . it shall

be  revealed on the mount of God . . . . then also behold his bed, his

iron  bed,  then  shalt thou know the truth.
(11) In these few words he

hints,  and  also  shows  that it was not Moses who wrote the Penta-

teuch,  but  someone  who  lived  long  after  him,  and  further,  that

the  book which Moses wrote was something different from any now


(8:12) To prove this, I say, he draws attention to the facts:

(8:13)   That  the  preface  to  Deuteronomy  could  not  have  been

written  by  Moses,  inasmuch  as  he had never crossed the Jordan.

 (8:14)  That  the  whole  book of Moses was written at full length on

the  circumference  of  a  single altar (Deut. xxvii:6, and Josh. viii:30),

which   altar,   according  to  the  Rabbis,  consisted  of  only  twelve

stones:  therefore  the  book  of  Moses  must  have been of far less

extent  than  the  Pentateuch.  (8:15)  This  is  what  our  author means,

I  think,  by  the  mystery  of  the  twelve, unless he is referring to the

twelve   curses   contained  in  the  chapter  of  Deuteronomy  above

cited,  which  he  thought  could  not have been contained in the law,

because  Moses  bade  the  Levites read them after the recital of the

law,  and  so  bind  the  people  to  its observance.  (8:16)  Or again, he

may  have  had  in  his  mind  the last chapter of Deuteronomy which

treats  of  the  death  of  Moses,  and  which  contains twelve verses.

 (817)   But  there  is  no  need  to  dwell  further  on  these  and  similar


   (8:18)  That  in  Deut. xxxi:9,  the  expression  occurs,  "and  Moses

wrote the law:"  words  that  cannot  be  ascribed to Moses, but must

be  those  of  some  other  writer narrating the deeds and writings of


  (8:19)  That   in   Genesis xii:6,   the  historian,  after  narrating  that

Abraham  journeyed  through  the  land  of  Canaan,  adds,  
page 122

"and  the  Canaanite  was  then  in the land,"  thus  clearly excluding
the  time  at  which  he  wrote.   (8:20)  So  that this passage must have

been  written  after  the  death  of  Moses, when the Canaanites had

been driven out, and no longer possessed the land.

IV Continued

(8:21)  Aben  Ezra,  in  his  commentary  on the passage, alludes to the

difficulty  as  follows:-  "And  the  Canaanite  was  then in the land: it

appears  that  Canaan,  the  grandson  of  Noah,  took  from another

the  land  which  bears  his  name;  if  this  be  not  the true meaning,

there  lurks  some  mystery  in  the  passage,  and let him who under-

stands  it  keep  silence." 
(8:22)   That  is,   if  Canaan  invaded  those                 Heresies 

regions,  the  sense  will  be,  the Canaanite was then in the land, in

contradistinction  to  the  time  when  it  had  been  held  by  another:

but   if,   as   follows  from  Gen.  chap. x.  Canaan  was  the  first  to

inhabit  the  land,  the  text  must  mean  to exclude the time present,

that  is  the  time  at  which  it  was written;
therefore it cannot be the

work   of   Moses,  in  whose  time  the  Canaanites  still  possessed

those  territories:  this  is  the  mystery  concerning  which  silence is  


V.   (8:23)  That  in  Genesis  xxii:14  Mount  Moriah is called the mount

of  God (9),  a  name  which it did not acquire till after the building of

the  Temple;  the  choice  of  the mountain was not made in the time

of  Moses,  for  Moses  does  not  point  out  any  spot as chosen by

God;  on  the  contrary, he foretells that God will at some future time

choose a spot to which this name will be given.

(8:24)   Lastly,  that  in  Deut. 3:11,  in  the  passage  relating  to Og,

king  of  Bashan,  these  words  are  inserted:  "For  only  Og king of

Bashan  remained  of  the  remnant  of  giants: behold, his bedstead

was  a  bedstead  of  iron:  is  it  not  in  Rabbath  of  the  children of

Ammon?  nine  cubits  was  the  length  thereof,  and  four cubits the

breadth  of  it,  after  the  cubit of a man.
(8:25) This parenthesis most

plainly  shows  that  its  writer  lived  long  after Moses; for this mode

of  speaking  is  only  employed  by  one  treating of things long past,

and  pointing  to  relics  for  the  sake of gaining credence: moreover,

this  bed  was  almost  certainly  first  discovered by David, who con-
quered  the  city of Rabbath (2 Sam. xii:30.(8:26) Again, the historian
Num 32:41}
a  little  further  on  inserts  after  the  words of Moses, "Jair, the son

 page 123   of   Manasseh,   took  all  the  country  of   Argob   unto   the

coasts  of  Geshuri  and  Maachathi;
 and  called  them after his own

name,  Bashan-havoth-jair,  unto  this day.
(8:27) This passage, I say,

is   inserted   to   explain   the   words   of  Moses  which  precede  it.
Deu 3:13}
(8:28)  "And  the  rest  of  Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of

Og,  gave  I  unto  the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob,

with  all  Bashan,  which  is  called  the land of the giants.
 (8:29)  The

Hebrews  in  the time of the writer indisputably knew what territories

belonged  to  the  tribe  of  Judah,  but  did not know them under the

name   of   the   jurisdiction   of   Argob,   or  the  land  of  the  giants.

(8:30)  Therefore  the  writer  is compelled to explain what these places

were  which  were  anciently so styled, and at the same time to point

out  why  they  were  at the time of his writing known by the name of

Jair, who was of the tribe of Manasseh, not of Judah.

(8:31)  We  have  thus  made  clear the meaning of Aben Ezra and also

the  passages  of  the  Pentateuch which he cites in proof of his con-

tention.  (8:32)  However,  Aben  Ezra  does  not  call attention to every

instance,  or  even  the  chief  ones;  there  remain  many  of greater

importance, which may be cited.


   (8:33)   that  the  writer  of  the books in question not only speaks of
Moses  in  the  third  person,  but also bears witness to many details

concerning  him;  for  instance,  "Moses talked with God;" "The Lord

spoke  with  Moses  face to face;
" "Moses was the meekest of men"

(Numb. xii:3);"  "
Moses  was  wrath  with  the  captains  of  the host;"

Moses,  the  man  of  God,"  "Moses, the servant of  the Lord, died;"

There was never a prophet in Israel like unto Moses,"  &c.  
(8:34)  On

the  other  hand,  in  Deuteronomy, where the law which Moses had

expounded  to  the  people  and  written  is  set forth, Moses speaks

and  declares  what  he  has  done  in  the  first person: "God spake

with me
" (Deut. ii:1, 17, &c.),  " I prayed to the Lord," &c.  
(8:35) Except

at  the  end  of the book, when the historian, after relating the words

of  Moses, begins again to speak in the third person, and to tell how

Moses  handed over the law which he had expounded to the people

in  writing,  again admonishing them, and further, how Moses ended

his life.  (8:36)  All these details, the manner of narration, the testimony,

and  the  context  of  the  whole  story  lead  to  the  plain conclusion

  page 124   that  these  books  were  written  by  another,   and  not  by

Moses in person.

(8:37)  We  must  also  remark  that  the history relates not only the

manner  of  Moses'  death  and  burial, and the thirty days' mourning

of  the  Hebrews,  but  further  compares  him  with  all  the prophets

who   came   after   him,   and  states  that  he  surpassed  them  all.
Deu 34:10}
(8:38) "There was never a prophet in Israel like unto Moses, whom the

Lord  knew face to face.   (8:39)   Such  testimony  cannot  have  been

given  of  Moses by himself, nor by any who immediately succeeded

him,  but it must come from someone who lived centuries afterwards,
  Bk.XIA:6757.              {Deu 34:6}
especially,  as  the  historian  speaks of past times.  (8:40)  "There was

never a prophet," &c.  (8:41) And of the place of burial, "No one knows

it to this day."

 (8:42)  We  must  note  that  some  places  are  not  styled  by  the

names  they  bore  during  Moses'  lifetime, but by others which they

obtained  subsequently. 
(8:43)  For  instance, Abraham is said to have

pursued  his  enemies  even  unto Dan, a name not bestowed on the

city  till  long  after the death of Joshua (Gen. xiv;14, Judges xviii;29).

 (8:44)  The  narrative  is  prolonged after the death of Moses, for in

Exodus xvi:35  we  read  that  " the  children of  Israel did eat manna

forty  years  until  they  came  to  a  land  inhabited,  until  they came

unto  the  borders  of  the  land of Canaan.
(8:45) In other words, until

the time alluded to in Joshua vi:12.

IV Continued

(8:46)  So,  too,  in  Genesis xxxvi:31  it  is stated, "These are the kings

that  reigned  in  Edom  before there reigned any king over the chil-

dren of Israel.
(8:47) The historian, doubtless, here relates the kings

of  Idumæa  before  that  territory was conquered by David (10) and

garrisoned, as we read in 2 Sam. viii:14.

(8:48) From what has been said, it is thus clearer than the sun at noon-

day  that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone

who  lived  long  after Moses. 
(8:49)  Let  us  now  turn our attention to

the books  which  Moses  actually  did  write,  and which are cited in

 the  Pentateuch;  thus,  also,  shall  we  see that they were different

from the Pentateuch.  (8:50) Firstly, it appears from Exodus xvii:14 that

Moses,  by  the  command  of  God,  wrote  an  account  of  the  war

against  Amalek.  (8:51)  The  book  in  which he did so is not named in

 page 125  the   chapter   just  quoted,   but  in  Numb. xxi:12  a  book  is

referred  to  under  the  title  of  the  wars of God, and doubtless this

war  against  Amalek  and  the castrametations said in Numb. xxxiii:2

to  have  been written by Moses are therein described(8:52) We hear

also  in  Exod. xxiv:4  of  another  book  called  the  Book of the Cov-

enant,  which Moses read before the Israelites when they first made
    Strong:1285 from 1262   
a covenant with God. 
(53) But this book or this writing contained very

little,  namely,  the  laws  or commandments of God which we find in

Exodus xx:22  to  the  end  of  chap. xxiv.,  and  this no one will deny

who  reads  the  aforesaid chapter rationally and impartially.  (8:54) It is

there  stated  that  as  soon  as  Moses  had learnt the feeling of the

people  on  the  subject  of making a covenant with God, he immedi-

ately  wrote  down  God's  laws  and utterances, and in the morning,

after some ceremonies had been performed, read out the conditions

of  the  covenant  to  an  assembly  of  the whole people.  (8:55) When

these had been gone through, and doubtless understood by all, the

whole people gave their assent.

(8:56)  Now from the shortness of the time taken in its perusal and also

from  its  nature  as  a  compact,  this  document evidently contained

nothing more than that which we have just described. 
(8:57) Further, it

is  clear  that Moses explained all the laws which he had received in

the fortieth year after the exodus from Egypt; also that he bound over

the  people  a  second time to observe them, and that finally he com-

mitted  them  to  writing  (Deut. i:5; xxix:14; xxxi:9),  in  a  book which

contained  these  laws  explained,
 and  the  new covenant, and this

book  was  therefore  called  the  book  of  the law of God: the same

which  was  afterwards  added  to  by  Joshua when he set forth the

fresh  covenant  with  which he bound over the people and which he

entered into with God (Josh. xxiv:25, 26).

(8:58)  Now,  as  we  have  extent  no  book containing this covenant of

Moses and also the covenant of Joshua, we must perforce conclude

that  it has perished, unless, indeed, we adopt the wild conjecture of
 See Shirley's footnote }
the  Chaldean  paraphrast  Jonathan,  and  twist  about the words of

Scripture to our heart's content. 
(8:59) This commentator, in the face of

our present difficulty, preferred corrupting the sacred text to confess-

ing his own ignorance. 
(60) The passage in the book of Joshua which
Josh. xxiv:26}
runs,    page 126   "and Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law
in his Aramaic translation}
of God," he changes ^ into "and Joshua wrote these words and kept

them with the book of the law of God.
(8:61)  What  is to be done with

persons  who  will  only  see what pleases them? 
(62) What is such a

proceeding if it is not denying Scripture, and inventing another Bible

out of our own heads?
  (63) We may therefore conclude that the book

of  the  law  of God which Moses wrote was not the Pentateuch, but

something  quite  different,  which the author of the Pentateuch duly

inserted  into  his book.
 (8:64)  So  much  is abundantly plain both from

what  I  have  said  and  from what I am about to add.
 (8:65)  For in the
Deu 31:9}
passage  of  Deuteronomy  above  quoted,  where  it  is  related that

Moses wrote the book of the law,  the historian adds that he handed
say nowadays, Judges}
it over to the priests and bade them read it out at a stated time to the
Would that parts of all righteous Constitutions be publicly read at stated times.}
whole people. (8:66) This shows that the work was of much less length

than  the  Pentateuch,  inasmuch  as it could be read through at one

sitting  so  as  to  be  understood  by all; further, we must not omit to

notice  that out of all the books which Moses wrote, this one book of
Deu 32.1}
the second covenant and the song (which latter he wrote afterwards
Talmud evolved into modern-day law libraries.}
so  that  all  the  people  might  learn  it),  was the only one which he

caused  to  be  religiously  guarded  and  preserved.  
(8:67)  In the first

covenant he had only bound over those who were present, but in the

second  covenant  he  bound  over  all  their descendants also (Deut.

),  and  therefore ordered this covenant with future ages to be
Deu 32.1}
religiously  preserved,  together with the Song, which was especially

addressed to posterity: as, then, we have no proof that Moses wrote

any book save this of the covenant, and as he committed no other to

the  care of posterity; and, lastly, as there are many passages in the

Pentateuch  which  Moses  could not have written, it follows that the

belief  that  Moses  was the author of the Pentateuch is ungrounded

and  even  irrational. 
(8:68) Someone will perhaps ask whether Moses

did  not  also write down other laws when they were first revealed to

him—in  other  words,  whether,  during the course of forty years, he

did not write down any of the laws which he promulgated, save only

those few which I have stated to be contained in the book of the first

(69) To this I would answer, that although it seems reason-

able to suppose
 page 127  that Moses wrote down the laws at the time

when  he wished to communicate them to the people, yet we are not

warranted  to take it as proved,
for I have shown above that we must

make  no  assertions  in  such  matters  which we do not gather from

Scripture,  or  which do not flow as legitimate consequences from its

fundamental  principles.
  (70) We must not accept whatever is reason-

ably probable. 
(8:71) However even reason in this case would not force

such a conclusion upon us: for it may be that the assembly of elders

wrote  down  the  decrees  of Moses and communicated them to the

people,  and  the historian collected them, and duly set them forth in

his  narrative of the life of Moses. 
(8:72)  So much for the five books of

Moses:  it  is  now  time  for  us  to  turn  to the other sacred writings.

(8:73)  The  book  of  Joshua may be proved not to be an autograph by

reasons  similar to those we have just employed: for it must be some

other  than Joshua who testifies that the fame of Joshua was spread

over  the  whole  world;
 that  he  omitted nothing of what Moses had

taught  (Josh. vi:27; viii. last verse; xi:15);  that he grew old and sum-

moned an assembly of the whole people, and finally that he departed

this  life.
  (8:74)  Furthermore,  events are related which took place after

Joshua's death. 
(75) For instance, that the Israelites worshipped God,

after his death, so long as there were any old men alive who remem-

bered him; and in chap. xvi:10, we read that "Ephraim and Manasseh

did  not  drive  out  the  Canaanites  which  dwelt  in  Gezer,  but  the

Canaanite  dwelt  in the land of Ephraim unto this day, and was tribu-

tary to him."
 (76) This is the same statement as that in Judges, chap. i.,

and  the  phrase  "unto this day"  shows that the writer was speaking

of ancient times. 
(8:77) With these texts we may compare the last verse

of  chap. xv.,  concerning  the  sons of Judah, and also the history of

Caleb  in  the  same  chap. v:14
(8:78) Further, the building of an altar

beyond  Jordan  by  the  two  tribes  and  a  half,  chap. xxii:10,  sqq.,

seems  to  have  taken  place  after  the  death  of Joshua,  for in the

whole  narrative  his  name is never mentioned, but the people alone

held  council  as  to  waging  war,  sent  out  legates, waited for their

return, and finally approved of their answer.

(8:79)  Lastly,  from  chap. x:14.  ^ ,  it is clear that  the book  page 128  was

written  many  generations  after   the  death  of  Joshua,  for it bears

witness "there was never any day like unto that day, either before or

after, that the Lord hearkened to the voice of a man,
" &c. 
(80) If, there-

fore,  Joshua wrote any book at all, it was that which is quoted in the
work now before us, ^ chap. x:13.

(8:81)  With regard to the book of Judges, I suppose no rational person

persuades  himself  that  it was written by the actual Judges. 
(82)  For

the  conclusion  of  the  whole  history  contained  in  chap. ii. clearly

shows  that it is all the work—of a single historian. 
(8:83) Further, inas-

much  as  the writer frequently tells us that there was then no king in

Israel,  it  is evident that the book was written after the establishment

of the monarchy.

(8:84)  The  books  of Samuel need not detain us long, inasmuch as the

narrative in them is continued long after Samuel's death; but I should

like to draw attention to the fact that it was written many generations

after  Samuel's  death. 
  (8:85)  For  in  book i.  chap. ix:9,  the  historian

remarks in a parenthesis, "Beforetime, in Israel, when a man went to

inquire  of  God,  thus he spake: Come, and let us go to the seer; for

he  that  is  now  called  a  prophet  was  beforetime  called  a  seer.

(8:86)  Lastly,  the books of Kings, as we gather from internal evidence,

were  compiled  from the books of King Solomon (I Kings xi:41), from

the  chronicles  of  the  kings  of  Judah (1 Kings xiv:19, 29), and the

chronicles of the kings of Israel.

(8:87)  We  may,  therefore,  conclude  that  all  the books we have con-

sidered  hitherto  are  compilations,  and  that  the events therein are

recorded  as  having  happened  in old time. 
(8:88)  Now, if we turn our

attention to the connection and argument of all these books, we shall

easily see that they were all written by a single historian, who wished

to  relate the antiquities of the Jews from their first beginning down to

the  first  destruction  of  the  city.
  (8:89)  The  way in which the several

books  are connected one with the other is alone enough to show us

that  they  form  the narrative of one and the same writer. 
(8:90)  For as

soon  as  he  has related the life of Moses, the historian thus passes
Jos 1:1}
on  to  the story of Joshua: "And it came to pass after that Moses the

servant of the
  page 129  Lord was dead, that God spake unto Joshua,"

 so  in  the same way, after the death of Joshua was concluded,

he  passes with identically the same transition and connection to the
Jdg 1:1}
history  of  the  Judges:  "And  it came to pass after that Joshua was

dead,  that  the  children of Israel sought from God,
" &c
.   (8:91)  To  the

book  of  Judges  he adds the story of Ruth, as a sort of appendix, in
Ruth 1:1}
these  words: "Now it came to pass in the days that the judges ruled,

that there was a famine in the land."

1sam 1:1}
(8:92) The first book of Samuel is introduced with a similar phrase; and
2sam 1:1}
so  is  the  second  book  of Samuel.  (8:93) Then, before the history of

David is concluded, the historian passes in the same way to the first
1ki 1:1}                                                        {2ki 1:1}
book of Kings, and, after David's death, to the Second book of Kings.

(8:94)  The  putting together, and the order of the narratives, show that

they  are  all  the work of one man, writing with a definite aim; for the                

historian  begins  with  relating  the  first origin of the Hebrew nation,

and  then  sets  forth  in  order the times and  the occasions in which

Moses put forth his laws, and made his predictions. 
(8:95) He then pro-

ceeds  to  relate  how  the  Israelites  invaded  the  promised  land in

accordance  with  Moses'  prophecy (Deut. vii.);  and  how, when the

land was subdued,
they turned their backs on their laws, and thereby

incurred many misfortunes (Deut. xxxi:16, 17). 
(8:96)  He tells how they

wished to elect rulers, and how, according as these rulers observed

the  law,  the  people  flourished  or  suffered (Deut. xxviii:36); finally,

how  destruction came upon the nation, even as Moses had foretold.

(8:97) In regard to other matters, which do not serve to confirm the law,

the  writer either passes over them in silence, or refers the reader to

other books for information.
  (8:98)  All that is set down in the books we

have conduces to the sole object of setting forth the words and laws

of Moses, and proving them by subsequent events.

(8:99)  When  we  put  together these three considerations, namely, the

unity  of  the  subject  of all the books, the connection between them,

and the fact that they are compilations made many generations after

the  events  they  relate had taken place, we come to the conclusion,

as  I  have  just stated, that they are all the work of a single historian.

(8:100)  Who  this  historian was, it is not so easy to show; but I   page 130 
suspect  that  he was Ezra, and there are several strong reasons for           Ezra's Biography

adopting this hypothesis.

(8:101)  The  historian  whom  we  already know to be but one individual

brings   his  history down to the liberation of Jehoiakim, and adds that

he himself sat at the king's table all his life—that is, at the table either

of  Jehoiakim,  or  of the son of Nebuchadnezzar, for the sense of the

passage is ambiguous: hence it follows that he did not live before the

time of Ezra.
  (8:102) But Scripture does not testify of any except of Ezra

(Ezra vii:10),  that  he "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord,

and  to  set  it  forth, and further that he was a ready scribe in the law

of Moses.
(8:103) Therefore, I can not find anyone, save Ezra, to whom

to attribute the sacred books.

(8:104) Further, from this testimony concerning Ezra, we see that he pre-

pared  his heart, not only to seek the law of the Lord, but also to set it

forth;  and,  in Nehemiah  viii:8, we read that "they read in the book of

the  law  of  God  distinctly,  and  gave the sense, and caused them to

understand the reading.

(8:105) As, then, in Deuteronomy, we find not only the book of the law of

Moses,  or  the  greater part of it, but also many things inserted for its

better  explanation,  I conjecture that this Deuteronomy is the book of

the  law  of  God,  written,  set  forth,  and explained by Ezra, which is

referred  to  in  the text above quoted. 
(8:106) Two examples of the way

matters were inserted parenthetically in the text of Deuteronomy, with

a  view to its fuller explanation, we have already given, in speaking of

Aben Ezra's  opinion. 
(8:107) Many others are found in the course of the

work:  for  instance,  in  chap. ii:12:  "The  Horims  dwelt  also  in  Seir

beforetime;  but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had

destroyed  them  from  before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel

did  unto  the land of his possession, which the Lord gave unto them.

(8:108)  This  explains  verses 3 and 4  of  the  same  chapter, where it is

stated  that  Mount  Seir, which had come to the children of Esau for a

possession,  did  not  fall  into  their  hands  uninhabited; but that they

invaded  it,  and  turned  out and  destroyed  the Horims, who formerly

dwelt   therein,   even  as  the  children  of  Israel  had  done  unto the

Canaanites after the death of Moses.

PAGE 131

(8:109)  So,  also,  verses 6, 7, 8, 9,  of  the  tenth  chapter  are inserted

parenthetically  among  the words of Moses. Everyone must see that

verse 8,  which  begins,  "At that time the Lord separated the tribe of

"  necessarily  refers  to  verse 5,  and not to the death of Aaron,

which  is  only  mentioned  here by Ezra because Moses, in telling of

the   golden   calf  worshipped  by  the  people,  stated  that  he  had

prayed for Aaron.

(8:110)  He  then  explains  that  at the time at which Moses spoke, God

had  chosen  for  Himself  the tribe of Levi in order that He may point

out  the  reason for their election, and for the fact of their not sharing

in  the  inheritance;  after  this  digression,  he resumes the thread of

Moses' speech.
 (8:111) To these parentheses we must add the preface

to the book, and all the passages in which Moses is spoken of in the
Moses spoke}
third person, besides many which we cannot now distinguish, though,

doubtless,  they  would  have been plainly recognized by the writer's


(8:112) If, I say, we were in possession of the book of the law as Moses

wrote  it,  I  do not doubt that we should find a great difference in the

words  of  the  precepts,  the  order  in which they are given, and the

reasons by which they are supported.

(8:113)  A  comparison  of  the  decalogue  in Deuteronomy {5:6} with the

decalogue in Exodus {
20:2}, where its history is explicitly set forth, will

be  sufficient to show us a wide discrepancy in all these three partic-
Deu 5:9 & Exo 20:5}
ulars,  for  the  fourth commandment  is  given  not only in a different

form, but at much greater length, while the reason for its observance
         The reason is, perhaps,
          {Deu 5:9 adds: "and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation                          to show the relevance
              of them that love Me and keep My commandments."
}                                      to the then generation. 
differs  wholly  from  that  stated  in  Exodus. (8:114) Again, the order in           Another interpretation. 
                       {Deu 5:18 & Exo 20:14}
which   the   tenth   commandment  is  explained  differs  in  the  two

versions.  (8:115) I think that the differences here as elsewhere are the

work  of  Ezra,  who explained the law of God to his contemporaries,

and  who  wrote  this  book  of  the law of God, before anything else;

this  I  gather  from  the  fact  that  it contains the laws of the country,

of  which  the  people stood in most need, and also because it is not

joined  to  the  book  which  precedes  it  by  any  connecting phrase,

but  begins with the independent statement, " these are the words of

(8:116)   After  this task was completed, I think Ezra set himself

to  give  a  complete  account  of  the  history  of  the  Hebrew nation

 page 132   from the creation of the world to the entire destruction of the

city,  and  in this account he inserted the book of Deuteronomy, and,

possibly,   he  called  the  first  five  books  by  the  name  of  Moses,

because his life is chiefly contained therein, and forms their principal

for the same reason he called the sixth Joshua, the seventh

Judges,  the  eighth  Ruth, the ninth, and perhaps the tenth, Samuel,

and,  lastly,  the  eleventh  and twelfth Kings.
 (8:117)  Whether Ezra put

the  finishing  touches to this work and finished it as he intended, we

will discuss in the next chapter.

End of Chapter VIII

Page 133


(9:1) How  greatly  the  inquiry  we have just made concerning the real

writer of the twelve books aids us in attaining a
complete understand-
8:89 to 8:93}
ing  of them, may be easily gathered solely from the passages which

we have adduced in confirmation of our opinion,
and which would be

most  obscure  without  it.  (9:2)  But besides the question of the writer,

there  are  other  points to notice which common superstition forbids

the  multitude  to  apprehend.  
(9:3)  Of  these  the  chief  is,  that Ezra

(whom  I  will take to be the author of the aforesaid books until some

more  likely  person  be suggested) did not put the finishing touches

to  the narrative contained therein, but merely collected the histories

from  various  writers, and sometimes simply set them down, leaving

their examination and arrangement to posterity.

(9:4)  The  cause  (if it were not untimely death) which  prevented  him

from  completing  his work in all its portions, I cannot conjecture, but

the fact remains most clear,
although we have lost the writings of the

ancient  Hebrew  historians,  and  can  only  judge from the few frag-

ments which are still extant. 
(9:5) For the history of Hezekiah (2 Kings

),  as  written  in the vision of Isaiah, is related as it is found in

the  chronicles  of  the  kings  of Judah.
  (9:6) We read the same story,

told with few exceptions
(11) in the same words, in the book of Isaiah

which was contained in the chronicles of the kings of
Judah (2 Chron.

).  (9:7)  From  this  we  must  conclude  that there were various

versions  of  this  narrative of Isaiah's, unless, indeed, anyone would

dream  that  in  this, too,  there  lurks  a mystery. 
(9:8) Further, the last

chapter  of
   page 134   2 Kings 27-30 is repeated in the last chapter of

Jeremiah, v.31-34.

(9:9)  Again,  we  find  2  Sam. vii.  repeated  in  I  Chron. xvii.,  but  the

expressions   in   the  two  passages  are  so  curiously  varied  (12),

that  we  can  very  easily  see  that  these  two chapters were taken

from two different versions of the history of Nathan.

(9:10)   Lastly,  the  genealogy  of  the  kings  of  Idumæa  contained  in

Genesis  xxxvi:31,  is  repeated  in  the  same  words  in  1  Chron. i.,

though  we  know that the author of the latter work took his materials

from other historians, not from the twelve books we have ascribed to

(9:10a)  We  may  therefore  be sure that if we still possessed the

writings  of the historians, the matter would be made clear; however,

as  we  have  lost them, we can only examine the writings still extant,

and  from  their  order  and connection, their various repetitions, and,

lastly,  the  contradictions  in  dates  which  they  contain,   judge  of

the rest.

(9:11)  These,  then,  or  the  chief  of  them,  we  will  now  go  through.

(9:12) First, in the story of Judah and Tamar (Gen. xxxviii.) the historian

thus  begins: "And it came to pass at that time that Judah went down

from  his  brethren.
(9:13)  This  time cannot refer to what immediately

precedes (13), but must necessarily refer to something else, for from

the  time  when Joseph was sold into Egypt to the time when the pat-

riarch  Jacob,  with all his family, set out thither, cannot be reckoned

as more than twenty-two years, for Joseph, when he was sold by his

brethren, was seventeen years old, and when he was summoned by

Pharaoh  from  prison was thirty; if to this we add the seven years of

plenty  and  two  of  famine,  the  total  amounts to twenty-two years.

(9:14)  Now,  in  so  short  a  period,  no one can suppose that so many

things  happened  as  are  described;  that Judah had three children,

one after the other, from one wife, whom he married at the beginning

of  the  period;  that  the  eldest  of  these,  when he was old enough,

married  Tamar, and that after he died his next brother succeeded to

her;  that,  after  all  this,  Judah,  without knowing it, had intercourse

with  his daughter-in-law,  and  that  she  bore him twins, and, finally,

that  the  eldest  of  these twins became a father within the aforesaid

(9:15)  As  all  these  events  page 135   cannot have taken place

within   the   period   mentioned   in   Genesis,   the  reference  must

necessarily  be  to  something  treated  of in another book: and Ezra

in  this  instance  simply  related  the  story,  and  inserted  it without

examination among his other writings.

(9:16) However, not only this chapter but the whole narrative of Joseph

and Jacob is collected and set forth from various histories, inasmuch

as it is quite inconsistent with itself.  
(9:17) For in Gen. xlvii. we are told

that  Jacob,  when  he  came  at Joseph's bidding to salute Pharaoh,

was 130  years  old. 
(9:18) If from this we deduct the twenty-two years

which he passed sorrowing for the absence of Joseph
and the seven-

teen  years  forming Joseph's age when he was sold, and, lastly, the

seven  years for which Jacob served for Rachel, we find that he was

very advanced in life, namely, eighty four, when he took Leah to wife,

whereas Dinah was scarcely seven years old when she was violated

by  Shechem (14).  
(9:19)  Simeon  and  Levi  were  aged  respectively

eleven  and twelve when they spoiled the city and slew all the males

therein with the sword.

(9:20)  There is no need that I should go through the whole Pentateuch.

(9:21)  If anyone pays attention to the way in which all the histories and

precepts in these five books are set down promiscuously
and without

order,  with  no  regard  for dates; and further, how the same story is

often  repeated, sometimes in a different version, he will easily, I say,

discern  that  all  the  materials  were  promiscuously  collected  and

heaped  together,  in order that they might at some subsequent time

be more readily examined and reduced to order. 
(9:22)  Not only these

five books,  but also the narratives contained in the remaining seven,
going  down  to  the destruction of the city, are compiled in the same

(9:23) For who does not see that in Judges ii:6 a new historian is

being quoted, who had also written of the deeds of Joshua, and that

his words are simply copied? 
(24) For after our historian has stated in

the  last  chapter  of  the  book  of Joshua that Joshua died and was

buried,  and  has  promised,  in  the  first chapter of Judges, to relate

what happened after his death,
in what way, if he wished to continue

the  thread of his history, could he connect the statement here made

about Joshua with what had gone before?

PAGE 136

(9:25)  So,  too, 1 Sam. 17, 18,  are  taken  from another historian, who

assigns   a   cause  for  David's  first  frequenting  Saul's  court  very

different  from  that given in chap. xvi. of the same book. 
(9:26)  For he

did  not  think that David came to Saul in consequence of the advice

of Saul's servants, as is narrated in chap. xvi., but that being sent by

chance  to  the  camp by his father on a message to his brothers, he

was for the first time remarked by Saul on the occasion of his victory

over Goliath the Philistine, and was retained at his court.

(9:27)  I  suspect  the  same  thing  has taken place in chap. xxvi. of the

same  book,  for  the  historian  there  seems  to repeat the narrative

given    in    chap.  xxiv.    according    to    another    man's   version.

(9:28)  But  I pass  over  this,  and  go  on  to  the  computation of dates.

(9:29)  In  I  Kings,  chap. vi.,  it is said that Solomon built the Temple in

the  four  hundred  and  eightieth  year  after  the exodus from Egypt;

but  from the historians themselves we get a much longer period, for:

Moses governed the people in the desert  . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 40
Joshua, who lived 110 years, did not, according to
    Josephus and others' opinion rule more than . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 26
Cushan Rishathaim held the people in subjection . . . . ..
. . . . . . .   8
Othniel, son of Kenag, was judge for . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . (15) 40
Eglon, King of Moab, governed the people . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 18
Ehud and Shamgar  were judges . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Jachin, King of Canaan, held the people in subjection . . . . . . . . . 20
The people was at peace subsequently for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 40
It was under subjection to Midian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . .  7
It obtained freedom under Gideon for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 40
It fell under the rule of Abimelech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .   3
Tola, son of Puah, was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Jair was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
The people was in subjection to the Philistines and Ammonites . . 18
Jephthah was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
Ibzan, the Bethlehemite, was judge . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . 
Elon, the Zabulonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Abdon, the Pirathonite . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8

PAGE 137
The people was again subject to the Philistines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Samson was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . (16) 20
Eli was judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 40
The people again fell into subjection to the Philistines,
    till they were delivered by Samuel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
David reigned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Solomon reigned before he built the temple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4

(9:30)  All  these  periods  added  together  make  a  total  of 580 years.

(9:31)  But  to these must be added the years during which the Hebrew

republic  flourished after the death of Joshua, until it was conquered

by  Cushan  Rishathaim, which I take to be very numerous, for I can-

not bring myself to believe that immediately after the death of

all  those  who  had  witnessed his miracles died simultaneously, nor

that  their  successors  at  one  stroke  bid farewell to their laws, and

plunged  from  the  highest  virtue  into the depth of wickedness and


(9:32) Nor, lastly, that Cushan Rishathaim subdued them on the instant;

each  one of these circumstances requires almost a generation, and

there  is no doubt that Judges ii:7, 9, 10, comprehends a great many

years which it passes over in silence.
  (33) We must also add the years

during which Samuel was judge, the number of which is not stated in

Scripture,  and  also  the years during which Saul reigned, which are

not  clearly shown from his history. 
(9:34) It is, indeed, stated in 1 Sam.

,  that  he reigned two years, but the text in that passage is muti-

and the records of his reign lead us to suppose a longer period.

(9:35) That the text is mutilated I suppose no one will doubt who has ever
advanced so far as the threshold of the Hebrew language, for it runs
the Hebrew is literally-'son of years'}
as follows: "Saul was in his --- year, when he began to reign, and he

reigned  two  years over Israel.
(36) Who, I say, does not see that the

number of the years of Saul's age when he began to reign has been

(9:37)  That  the  record  of  the reign presupposes a greater

number of years is equally beyond doubt,
for in the same book, chap.

,  it  is  stated  that  David  sojourned among the Philistines, to

whom  he had fled on account of Saul, a year and four months; thus

the  rest  of  the  reign must have been
 page 138  comprised in a space

of eight months, which I think no one will credit.
  (9:38) Josephus, at the

end  of  the  sixth  book of his antiquities, thus corrects the text: Saul

reigned  eighteen years while Samuel was alive, and two years after

his  death. 
(9:39) However, all the narrative in chap. xiii. is in complete

disagreement  with  what  goes  before. 
(9:40)  At the end of vii:13 it is

narrated  that  the  Philistines  were so crushed by the Hebrews that

they  did  not venture,  during Samuel's life, to invade the borders of

Israel; but in 1sam xiii:6  we are told that the Hebrews were invaded

during  the  life of Samuel by the Philistines,
and reduced by them to

such  a  state  of wretchedness and poverty that they were deprived

not only of weapons with which to defend themselves, but also of the

means  of  making more.
  (9:41) I should be at pains enough if I were to

try  and  harmonize  all  the  narratives contained in this first book of

Samuel  so  that  they should seem to be all written and arranged by

a  single  historian.  (9:42) But I return to my object.  (43) The years, then,

during which Saul reigned must be added to the above computation;

and,  lastly, I have not counted the years of the Hebrew anarchy, for

I  cannot  from  Scripture gather their number.
  (9:44) I cannot, I say, be

certain  as  to  the  period  occupied by the events related in Judges

chap. xvii. on till the end of the book.

(9:45)   It  is  thus  abundantly  evident  that  we  cannot arrive at a true

computation  of  years  from  the  histories,   and,   further,  that  the

histories  are  inconsistent  themselves  on the subject.  (9:46)  We are

compelled   to   confess  that  these  histories  were  compiled  from

various   writers   without   previous  arrangement  and  examination.

(9:47) Not  less  discrepancy  is  found  between the dates given in the

Chronicles  of  the  Kings  of  Judah,  and those in the Chronicles of

the  Kings  of  Israel;  in  the  latter, it is stated that Jehoram, the son

of  Ahab,  began to reign in the second year of the reign of Jehoram,

the  son  of  Jehoshaphat  (2 Kings i:17),  but  in the former we read

that Jehoram,  the  son  of  Jehoshaphat,  began  to reign in the fifth

year  of  Jehoram,  the  son  of  Ahab  (2 Kings viii:16).   (9:48)  Anyone

who  compares  the  narratives  in  Chronicles  with the narratives in

the books of Kings, will find many similar discrepancies.   (9:49)  These

there  is  no  need  for  me to examine here, and still less am I called

upon  to  treat of  the  page 139  commentaries of those who endeavour

to harmonize them.  (9:50) The Rabbis evidently let their fancy run wild.

(9:51) Such  commentators  as  I  have,  read,  dream, invent, and as a

last  resort,  play fast and loose with the language.  (9:52) For instance,

when  it  is  said  in  2 Chronicles,  that Ahab was forty-two years old

when  he  began  to  reign,  they  pretend  that these years are com-

puted  from  the reign of Omri, not from the birth of Ahab.  (9:52a)  If this

can  be  shown  to  be  the  real meaning of the writer of the book of

Chronicles,  all I can say is,  that he did not know how to state a fact.

(9:53)  The  commentators  make  many  other  assertions  of  this kind,

which  if  true,  would prove that the ancient Hebrews were ignorant

both  of  their  own  language, and of the way to relate a plain narra-

tive.   (9:54)   I  should in such case recognize no rule or reason in inter-

preting  Scripture,  but  it  would  be  permissible  to  hypothesize  to

one's heart's content.

(9:55)  If  anyone  thinks  that  I am speaking too generally, and without

sufficient warrant, I would ask him to set himself to showing us some

fixed  plan  in  these histories which might be followed without blame

by  other  writers  of chronicles, and in his efforts at harmonizing and

interpretation,  so  strictly  to  observe  and  explain the phrases and

expressions,  the  order and the connections, that we may be able to

imitate  these  also  in  our writings (17) (9:56)  If he succeeds, I will at

once  give  him my hand, and he shall be to me as great Apollo; for I

confess  that  after  long endeavours I have been unable to discover

anything  of  the  kind.
  (9:57)  I  may  add  that  I set down nothing here
which I have not long reflected upon,  and that, though I was imbued

from  my boyhood up with the ordinary opinions about the Scriptures,

I  have  been  unable  to  withstand  the  force  of  what I have urged.

(9:58)  However,   there   is   no  need  to  detain  the  reader  with  this

question,  and  drive  him  to  attempt  an  impossible  task;  I merely

mentioned   the   fact   in   order   to   throw   light   on   my  intention.

(9:59)  I  now pass on to other points concerning the treatment of these

books.  (60)  For we must remark, in addition to what has been shown,

that  these  books were not guarded by posterity with such care that

no  faults  crept  in. 
(9:61)  The ancient scribes draw attention to many

doubtful  readings,  and some mutilated passages, but not to all that

exist:  whether  the    page 140   faults  are  of  sufficient  importance  to

greatly   embarrass   the reader  I  will  not  now  discuss.   (9:62)   I  am

inclined  to  think that they are of minor moment to those, at any rate,

who  read  the  Scriptures  with  enlightenment:  and  I can positively

affirm that I have not noticed any fault or various reading in doctrinal

passages    sufficient    to    render    them    obscure    or    doubtful.


(9:63)  There  are  some people, however, who will not admit that there

is any corruption, even in other passages, but maintain that by some

unique  exercise  of  providence  God has preserved from corruption

every  word  in  the  Bible: they say that the various readings are the

symbols  of  profoundest mysteries, and that mighty secrets lie hid in
missing parts}
the  twenty-eight  hiatus  which  occur,  nay, even in the very form of

the letters.

(9:64)   Whether   they   are  actuated  by  folly  and  anile devotion,  or
of or like a foolish, doddering old woman ^ }
whether  by  arrogance  and  malice so that they alone may be held

to  possess  the  secrets  of  God,  I  know  not: this much I do know,

that  I  find  in  their  writings  nothing  which  has  the air of a Divine

secret,  but  only  childish  lucubrations. 
(9:65)  I have read and known
Bk.XIB:2453.                  { ^ pretentiousness}
certain  Kabbalistic  triflers,  whose insanity provokes my unceasing                    Triflers 
     (9:66)  That   faults   have   crept   in  will,  I  think,  be

denied  by  no  sensible  person who reads the passage about Saul,

above quoted (1 Sam. xiii:1) and also 2 Sam. vi:2: "And David arose

and went with all the people that were with him from Judah, to bring

up from thence the ark of God."

(9:67)  No one can fail to remark that the name of their destination, viz.,

Kirjath-jearim (18),  has  been  omitted: nor can we deny that 2 Sam.
xiii:37, has been tampered with and mutilated.  
(68) "And Absalom fled,

and  went  to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur.  (68a)  And
2 Sam. 13:38}
he mourned for his son every day.   (9:68b)  So Absalom fled, and went

to  Geshur,  and  was  there  three  years."   (9:69)  I  know  that  I have

remarked  other passages of the same kind, but I cannot recall them

at the moment.

(9:70) That  the  marginal  notes  which  are  found  continually  in  the

Hebrew  Codices  are  doubtful  readings  will,  I think, be evident to

everyone  who  has  noticed  that  they  often  arise  from  the  great

similarity  of  some  of  the  Hebrew  letters, such for instance, as the               Triflers 

similarity  between  Kaf  and  Bet  page 141,  Yod  and  Vav,   Dalet  and 

Resh,  &c. {See Strong:Page 5 for shape of Hebrew letters.}  (9:71)  For       For shapes also see 

example,  the  text  in  2  Sam.  v:24,  runs  "in  the  time  when  thou

hearest, " and  similarly  in Judges xxi:22, "And it shall be  when  their

 fathers  or  their  brothers come unto us often, " the marginal version

is "come unto us to complain."

(9:72)  So  also  many various readings have arisen from the use of the

letters  named  mutes,  which  are  generally not sounded in pronun-

ciation,  and  are  taken  promiscuously,  one  for  the other.  (9:73) For
example,  in  Levit. xxv:29,  it  is  written,  "The house shall be estab-

lished which is not in the walled city,"  but  the  margin has it, "which

is in a walled city."

(9:74) Though these matters are self-evident, it is necessary to answer

the  reasonings  of  certain  Pharisees,  by which they endeavour to               Britannica

convince  us that the marginal notes serve to indicate some mystery

and  were  added  or  pointed out by the writers of the sacred books.

(9:75)The  first  of  these  reasons,  which,  in  my opinion, carries little

weight,  is  taken  from  the  practice of reading the Scriptures aloud.

(9:76)  If,  it is urged, these notes were added to show various readings

which  could  not  be  decided  upon  by  posterity,  why has custom

prevailed  that  the  marginal  readings  should  always  be retained?

(9:77)  Why  has  the  meaning which is preferred been set down in the

margin  when it ought to have been incorporated in the text, and not

relegated to a side note?

(9:78) The  second  reason  is  more  specious,  and  is  taken from the

nature  of  the  case.  (9:79) It is admitted that faults have crept into the

sacred  writings  by  chance  and  not by design; but they say that in

the  five  books  the word  for  a  girl  is,  with  one  exception, written

without  the  letter  "he,"  contrary  to  all grammatical rules, whereas

in  the  margin it is written correctly according to the universal rule of

grammar.  (9:80) Can this have happened by mistake? (80a)  Is it possible

to  imagine  a  clerical  error  to  have been committed every time the

word  occurs?  (9:81)  Moreover, it would have been easy to supply the

emendation.  (9:82)  Hence, when these readings are not accidental or

corrections of manifest mistakes, it is supposed that they must have

been set down on purpose by the original writers, and have a mean-

ing.  (9:83)  However,  it  is  easy  to  answer such arguments; as to the

question  of  custom  having prevailed in the reading of the marginal

versions,   page 142  I  will  not  spare  much  time  for its consideration:

I  know  not the promptings of superstition, and perhaps the practice

may  have  arisen  from  the  idea  that  both readings were deemed

equally  good  or  tolerable,   and  therefore,   lest  either  should  be

neglected,  one  was  appointed  to  be written,  and  the other to be

read.   (9:84)  They  feared  to  pronounce  judgment  in  so  weighty  a

matter  lest  they should mistake the false for the true, and therefore

they  would  give  preference  to  neither,  as  they  must necessarily

have  done  if  they  had  commanded  one only to be both read and

written.  (9:85)  This  would  be  especially the case where the marginal

readings  were  not  written down in the sacred books: or the custom

may  have  originated  because  some  things  though  rightly written

down  were  desired to  be read otherwise according to the marginal

version,  and  therefore the general rule was made that the marginal

version should be followed in reading the Scriptures.  (9:86) The cause

which  induced  the  scribes to expressly prescribe certain passages

to  be read in the marginal version, I will now touch on, for not all the

marginal  notes  are  various  readings,  but some mark expressions

which  have  passed  out of common use, obsolete words and terms

which current decency did not allow to be read in a public assembly.

(9:87) The  ancient  writers,  without  any  evil  intention,  employed no

courtly   paraphrase,   but   called   things   by   their   plain   names.

(9:88)  Afterwards,   through  the  spread  of  evil  thoughts  and  luxury,

words  which  could  be  used by the ancients without offence, came

to  be  considered  obscene.  (89)There was no need for this cause to

change  the  text  of  Scripture.   (9:90)   Still,  as  a  concession  to  the

popular  weakness,  it became the custom to substitute more decent

terms  for  words  denoting  sexual  intercourse, exereta, &c., and to

read them as they were given in the margin.

(9:91)  At  any  rate, whatever may have been the origin of the practice

of  reading  Scripture  according  to  the  marginal version, it was not

that the true interpretation is contained therein.  
(9:92)  For besides that,

the  Rabbins  in the Talmud  {the body of Jewish  civil and ceremonial

law, tradition, and legend; [200-500 C.E.< Heb talmudh lit., instruction] }

See Shirley's footnote}
often  differ  from  the  Massoretes,  and give other readings which they

approve of, as I will shortly show, certain things are found in the margin
which  appear  less  warranted   by  the  uses of the Hebrew language.

(9:93)  For  example,  in 2 Samuel xiv:22, we read, "In that the king hath

fulfilled  the  request   page 143  of  his servant,"  a  construction  plainly

regular,  and  agreeing with that in chap. xvi.  (9:94)  But the margin has

it  "of thy servant,"  which does not agree with the person of the verb.

(9:95)   So,  too,  chap. xvi:23  of the same book, we find, "As if one had

inquired  at  the  oracle  of  God,"  the  margin  adding "someone" to

stand  as  a  nominative  to  the  verb.   (9:96)  But  the correction is not

apparently  warranted,  for  it  is  a  common  practice, well known to

grammarians  in  the  Hebrew  language,   to  use  the  third  person

singular of the active verb impersonally.

(9:97) The  second  argument  advanced  by  the  Pharisees  is  easily

answered  from  what  has  just  been  said, namely, that the scribes

besides  the  various  readings  called  attention  to  obsolete words.
(9:98)  For  there  is  no  doubt  that  in  Hebrew  as in other languages,

changes  of  use  made  many  words  obsolete and antiquated, and

such  were found by the later scribes in the sacred books and noted

by  them  with  a  view  to the books being publicly read according to
boy or girl both to adolescence}
custom.  (9:99)  For this reason the word nahgar {Strong:5288 - nah'-ar}

is always  found  marked  because its gender was originally common,

and  it had the same meaning as the Latin juvenis (a young person).

(9:100)  So  also  the  Hebrew  capital  was  anciently called Jerusalem,

not  Jerusalaim.  (9:101)  As to the pronouns himself and herself, I think
shapes of letters}
that  the  later scribes changed vav into yod (a very frequent change

in  Hebrew)  when  they  wished to express the feminine gender, but

that the ancients only distinguished the two genders by a change of

vowels.  (9:102)  I  may  also  remark that the irregular tenses of certain

verbs  differ  in  the ancient and modern forms, it being formerly con-

sidered  a  mark  of  elegance  to employ certain letters agreeable to

the ear.

(9:103)  In  a word, I could easily multiply proofs of this kind if I were not

afraid of abusing the patience of the reader.  (9:104) Perhaps I shall be

asked  how  I  became acquainted with the fact that all these expres-

sions  are  obsolete.  (9:105)  I  reply  that I have found them in the most

ancient  Hebrew  writers  in  the  Bible  itself, and that they have not

been  imitated by subsequent authors, and thus they are recognized

as  antiquated,  though  the  language  in  which  they occur is dead.

(9:106)   But perhaps someone may press the question why, if it be true,

as I say, that the marginal notes of the Bible generally    page 144  mark

various  readings, there  are  never  more  than  two  readings  of  a

passage,  that  in  the text and that in the margin, instead of three or

more;  and further, how the scribes can have hesitated between two

readings,  one  of  which  is  evidently contrary to grammar, and  the

other a plain correction.

(9:107)   The  answer to these questions also is easy: I will premise that

it  is almost certain that there once were more various readings than

those now recorded. 
(9:108) For instance, one finds many in the Talmud

which the Massoretes have neglected, and are so different one from
                                                                                  {See Shirley's footnote}
the  other  that  even  the  superstitious  editor of the Bomberg Bible
Jacob ben Hayyim ^ }
confesses  that  he  cannot  harmonize  them.   (9:109)  "We cannot say

anything,"  he writes,  "except  what  we  have  said  above,  namely,

that  the  Talmud  is  generally  in  contradiction  to  the  Massorete."

(9:110)  So  that  we  are not  bound to hold that there never were more

than  two  readings  of  any passage,  yet  I  am willing to admit, and

indeed  I  believe  that more than two readings are never found: and

for the following reasons:-

  (9:111)  The  cause  of  the  differences of reading only admits of two,

being  generally  the  similarity of certain letters, so that the question

resolved  itself  into  which should be written Bet or Kaf, Yod or Vav,

Dalet or Resh)  {See Strong:5 for shape of Hebrew letters.}:  cases which          Hebrew Alphabet

are   constantly   occurring,  and  frequently  yielding  a  fairly  good

meaning whichever alternative be adopted.  (112) Sometimes, too, it is

a  question whether a syllable be long or short, quantity being deter-

mined  by the letters called mutes.  (9:113)  Moreover, we never assert-

ed  that all the marginal versions, without exception, marked various

readings;  on  the  contrary,  we  have stated that many were due to

motives   of   decency   or   a   desire   to   explain   obsolete   words.

  (9:114)  I am inclined to attribute the fact that more than two readings

are  never found to the paucity of exemplars, perhaps not more than

two or three, found by the scribes.  (9:115) In the treatise of the scribes,

chap. vi.,  mention  is  made  of  three  only, pretended to have been

found  in  the  time  of Ezra, in order that the marginal versions might

be attributed to him.

(9:116)  However  that may be, if the scribes only had three codices we

may easily imagine that in a given passage two of them would be in

accord, for it would be extraordinary if each one of the three gave a

different reading of the same text.

PAGE 145

(9:117)  The  dearth of copies after the time of Ezra will surprise no one

who   has   read   the  1st   chapter   of  Maccabees,  or  Josephus's

"Antiquities,"   Bk. 12,  chap. 5.   (9:118)  Nay,    it   appears   wonderful

considering  the  fierce  and  daily  persecution, that even these few

should  have been preserved.  (9:119) This will, I think, be plain to even

a cursory reader of the history of those times.

(9:120) We  have  thus  discovered  the  reasons  why  there are never

more  than  two readings of a passage in the Bible, but this is a long

way  from  supposing  that we may therefore conclude that the Bible

was  purposely  written  incorrectly  in  such  passages  in  order  to

signify  some  mystery.  (9:121)  As  to  the second argument, that some

passages  are  so  faultily written that they are at plain variance with

all  grammar,  and  should have been corrected in the text and not in

the  margin,  I  attach  little weight to it, for I am not concerned to say

what  religious  motive  the  scribes may have had for acting as they

did:  possibly  they  did so from candour, wishing to transmit the few

exemplars  of the Bible which they had found exactly in their original

state,  marking the differences they discovered in the margin, not as

doubtful  readings,  but as simple variants.  (9:122) I have myself called

them doubtful readings, because it would be generally impossible to

say which of the two versions is preferable.

(9:123)  Lastly,  besides  these  doubtful  readings the scribes have (by

leaving  a  hiatus  in  the  middle  of  a  paragraph)  marked  several

passages as mutilated.  (9:124) The Massoretes have counted up such

instances,  and they amount to eight-and-twenty.  (9:125) I do not know

whether  any  mystery  is  thought  to  lurk in the number, at any rate

the  Pharisees religiously preserve a certain amount of empty space.

(9:126)  One  of  such  hiatus  occurs  (to give an instance) in Gen. iv:8,

where  it is written, "And Cain said to his brother . . . . and it came to

pass  while  they  were  in the field, &c.," a space being left in which

we should expect to hear what it was that Cain said.

(9:127)  Similarly  there  are  (besides  those  points  we  have  noticed)

eight-and-twenty hiatus left by the scribes. (9:128) Many of these would

not be recognized as mutilated if it were not for the empty space left.

(9:129)  But I have said enough on this subject.

End of Chapter IX

Page 146

(10:1)  I  now  pass  on  to  the  remaining  books of the {Hebrew Bible}.

(2)  Concerning  the two books of Chronicles I have nothing particular

or  important  to remark, except that they were certainly written after

the  time of Ezra, and possibly after the restoration of the Temple by

Judas  Maccabæus (19)(2a)  For in chap. ix. of the first book we find

a  reckoning  of  the  families  who were the first to live in Jerusalem,

and  in  verse  17  the  names  of  the  porters, of which two recur in

Nehemiah.  (10:3) This  shows  that the books were certainly compiled

after  the  rebuilding  of  the  city.  (4)  As  to  their  actual  writer, their

authority,  utility,  and  doctrine,  I  come  to no conclusion.  (5) I have

always  been  astonished  that they have been included in the Bible

by  men  who  shut  out from the canon the books of Wisdom, Tobit,

and  the  others  styled  apocryphal.  (10:6)  I do not aim at disparaging

their  authority, but as they are universally received I will leave them

as they are.

(10:7)  The  Psalms  were  collected  and  divided into five books in the

time  of the second temple, for Ps. lxxxviii. was published, according
     ]See Shirley's footnote[    
to   Philo-Judæus,   while  king  Jehoiachin  was  still  a  prisoner  in

Babylon;  and  Ps. lxxxix.  when  the  same  king obtained his liberty:

I  do  not  think Philo would have made the statement unless either it

had  been  the received  opinion  in  his  time,  or else had been told

him by trustworthy persons.

(10:8)  The  Proverbs of Solomon were, I believe, collected at the same

time, or  at  least  in  the  time  of King Josiah; for in chap. xxv:1, it is

written,  "These  are  also  proverbs  of  Solomon  which the men of

Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out.(10:9) I cannot here pass over in

silence  the  audacity  of the Rabbis who wished to exclude from the

sacred  canon  both  page 147  the  Proverbs  and  Ecclesiastes, and to

put them both in the Apocrypha.  (9a) In fact, they would actually have

done  so,  if  they  had  not lighted on certain passages in which the

law of Moses is extolled.  (10:9b) It is, indeed, grievous to think that the
settling  of the sacred canon lay in the hands of such men; however,

I congratulate  them,  in  this  instance,  on  their  suffering us to see

these  books  in  question,  though  I  cannot  refrain  from  doubting

whether  they  have  transmitted  them  in  absolute  good faith; but I

will not now linger on this point.

(10:10)  I  pass  on,  then, to the prophetic books.  (11) An examination of

these  assures me that the prophecies therein contained have been

compiled  from  other  books,  and  are  not  always  set down in the

exact  order  in  which  they  were spoken or written by the prophets,

but  are  only  such  as  were  collected here and there, so that they

are but fragmentary.

(10:12)  Isaiah  began  to prophecy  in the reign of Uzziah, as the writer

himself  testifies  in the first verse.  (13) He not only prophesied at that

time,  but  furthermore  wrote  the  history  of that king (see 2 Chron.

xxvi:22) in a volume now lost.  (10:13a) That which we possess, we have

shown  to have been taken from the chronicles of the kings of Judah

and Israel.

(10:14)  We  may  add  that  the Rabbis assert that this prophet prophe-

sied  in  the  reign  of  Manasseh, by whom he was eventually put to

death,  and, although this seems to be a myth, it yet shows that they

did not think that all Isaiah's prophecies are extant.

(10:15)  The  prophecies  of Jeremiah, which are related historically are

also  taken  from  various  chronicles;  for  not  only are they heaped

together  confusedly,  without any account being taken of dates, but

also  the  same story is told in them differently in different passages.

(10:16)   For   instance,   in  chap. xxi.  we  are  told  that  the  cause  of

Jeremiah's  arrest  was  that  he  had  prophesied the destruction of

the  city  to  Zedekiah  who  consulted  him.  (10:17) This narrative sud-

denly   passes,   in   chap xxii.,  to  the  prophet's  remonstrances  to

Jehoiakim  (Zedekiah's  predecessor),  and  the  prediction he made

of  that  king's  captivity;  then,  in  chap. xxv.,  come  the revelations

granted  to  the  prophet  previously,   that  is  in  the  fourth  year  of

Jehoiakim,  and,  further  on still, the revelations received in   page 148 

the  first  year  of  the same reign.  (10:18) The continuator of Jeremiah

goes  on  heaping  prophecy  upon  prophecy  without any regard to

dates,  until  at  last,  in  chap. xxxviii.  (as if the intervening chapters

had  been  a parenthesis),   he   takes   up   the  thread  dropped  in

chap. xxi.

(10:19)  In  fact,  the  conjunction with which chap. xxxviii. begins, refers

to  the  8th,  9th, and 10th verses of chap. xxi. Jeremiah's last arrest

is  then  very  differently  described,  and a totally separate cause is

given for his daily retention in the court of the prison.

(10:20)  We  may  thus  clearly see that these portions of the book have

been  compiled  from  various  sources,  and are only from this point

of  view  comprehensible.   (10:21)   The  prophecies  contained  in  the

remaining  chapters,  where  Jeremiah  speaks  in  the  first  person,

seem  to  be  taken  from  a  book  written  by  Baruch, at Jeremiah's

dictation.   (10:22)  These,  however,  only comprise  (as  appears  from

chap. xxxvi:2)  the  prophecies revealed to the prophet from the time

of  Josiah  to  the fourth year of Jehoiakim, at which period the book

begins.  (10:23)  The  contents  of  chap. xlv:2,  on  to chap. li:59,  seem

taken from the same volume.

(10:24)  That  the book of Ezekiel is only a fragment, is clearly indicated

by  the  first verse.  (25) For anyone may see that the conjunction with

which  it  begins,  refers  to  something  already  said,  and connects

what  follows therewith.  (10:26) However, not only this conjunction, but

the  whole text of the discourse implies other writings.  (10:27) The fact

of  the  present  work beginning the thirtieth year shows that the pro-

phet  is  continuing,  not  commencing  a  discourse; and  this is con-

firmed  by  the  writer,  who  parenthetically  states  in verse 3,  "The

word of the Lord came often unto Ezekiel the priest,  the son of Buzi,

in the land of the Chaldeans,"  as if to say that the prophecies which

he  is  about to relate are the sequel to revelations formerly received

by  Ezekiel  from  God. 
(10:28)  Furthermore,  Josephus,  11 Antiq." x:9,

says  that Ezekiel prophesied that Zedekiah should not see Babylon,

whereas  the  book  we  now  have  not  only contains no such state-

ment,  but contrariwise asserts in chap. xvii. that he should be taken

to Babylon as a captive (20).

(10:29)  Of  Hosea  I  cannot  positively state that he wrote more than is

now  extant  in  the  book  bearing  his name, but I am  page 149  aston-

ished  at  the  smallness  of  the quantity we possess, for the sacred

writer  asserts  that  the  prophet  prophesied  for  more  than eighty


(10:30)  We  may  assert,  speaking  generally,  that the compiler of the

prophetic   books   neither  collected  all  the  prophets,  nor  all  the

writings of  those we have; for of the prophets who are said to have

prophesied  in the reign of Manasseh and of whom general mention

is  made in 2 Chron. xxxiii:10, 18, we have, evidently, no prophecies

extant;  neither  have  we  all  the prophecies of the twelve who give

their names to books.  (10:31) Of Jonah we have only the prophecy con-

cerning  the  Ninevites, though he also prophesied to the children of

Israel, as we learn in 2 Kings xiv:25.

(10:32)  The  book  and  the  personality of Job have caused much con-

troversy.  (33) Some think that the book is the work of Moses, and the

whole  narrative  merely  allegorical.  (10:34)  Such is the opinion of the

Rabbins   recorded   in   the  Talmud,  and  they  are  supported  by

Maimonides in  his "More Nebuchim.(10:35) Others believe it to be a

true  history,  and  some  suppose that Job lived in the time of Jacob,

and  was  married  to his daughter Dinah.  (10:36)  Aben Ezra, however,

as  I have already stated, affirms, in his commentaries, that the work

is  a translation into Hebrew from some other language: I could wish

that he could advance more cogent arguments than he does, for we

might then conclude that the Gentiles also had sacred books.  (10:37)  I

myself  leave  the  matter  undecided,  but  I  conjecture Job to have

been  a  Gentile,  and  a  man  of  very  stable character, who at first

prospered,  then  was  assailed  with  terrible  calamities, and finally

was  restored  to  great  happiness.  (10:38)  (He is thus named, among

others,  by  Ezekiel, xiv:14.)  (10:39)  I  take  it  that the constancy of his

mind  amid  the  vicissitudes  of his fortune occasioned many men to

dispute  about God's providence, or at least caused the writer of the

book  in  question  to  compose  his dialogues; for the contents, and

also  the  style,  seem  to emanate far less from a man wretchedly ill

and  lying  among  ashes,  than  from  one  reflecting  at  ease in his
study.  (10:40) I should also be inclined to agree with Aben Ezra that the

book   is  a  translation,   for  its  poetry  seems  akin  to  that  of  the

Gentiles;  thus  the  Father of Gods summons a council, and Momus,

here  called  Satan,  criticizes  the  Divine  decrees  with  the utmost

freedom.   page 150  (10:41)  But  these  are  mere conjectures without any

solid foundation.

(10:42)  I pass on to the book of Daniel, which, from chap. viii. onwards,

undoubtedly  contains  the writing of Daniel himself.  (43)  Whence the

first  seven  chapters  are  derived  I  cannot  say; we may, however,

conjecture  that,  as  they  were  first  written  in  Chaldean, they are

taken  from  Chaldean  chronicles.  (10:44)  If  this  could  be  proved,  it

would  form  a  very  striking  proof of the fact that the sacredness of

Scripture  depends  on  our  understanding  of  the doctrines therein

signified,  and  not  on  the  words, the language, and the phrases in

which  these  doctrines  are  conveyed  to  us;  and  it  would further

show  us  that  books  which teach and speak of whatever is highest

and  best  are equally sacred, whatever be the tongue in which they

are written, or the nation to which they belong.

(10:45)  We  can,  however,  in  this case only remark that the chapters

in  question  were  written in Chaldee, and yet are as sacred as the

rest of the Bible.

(10:46)  The  first book of Ezra is so intimately connected with the book

of  Daniel that both are plainly recognizable as the work of the same

author,  writing  of  Jewish  history  from the time of the first captivity

onwards.  (10:47)  I  have  no  hesitation  in  joining  to  this the book of

Esther,  for  the conjunction with which it begins can refer to nothing

else. (10:48) It cannot be the same work as that written by Mordecai, for,

in chap. ix:20-22, another person relates that Mordecai wrote letters,

and  tells us their contents; further, that Queen Esther confirmed the

days  of  Purim  in  their  times  appointed,  and  that the decree was

written  in  the  book  that  is (by a Hebraism), in a book known to all

then  living,  which, as Aben Ezra and the rest confess, has now per-

ished.  (10:49)  Lastly,  for the rest of the acts of Mordecai, the historian

refers  us  to  the  chronicles of the kings of Persia. 
(10:50)  Thus there

is  no  doubt  that  this  book  was written by the same person as he

who  recounted  the  history  of  Daniel  and  Ezra,   and  who  wrote

Nehemiah (21), sometimes called the second book of Ezra.  (10:51) We

may,  then,  affirm  that  all  these  books  are from one hand; but we

have no clue whatever to the personality of the author.  (10:52) However,

in  order  to  determine  whence  he, whoever he was, had gained a

knowledge  of   page 151  the  histories  which  he  had,  perchance,  in

great  measure  himself  written,  we  may remark that the governors

or  chiefs  of  the  Jews,  after  the  restoration  of  the  Temple, kept

scribes  or historiographers, who wrote annals or chronicles of them.

(10:53)  The  chronicles  of  the  kings  are often quoted in the books of

Kings,  but  the  chronicles  of  the  chiefs and priests are quoted for

the  first  time  in  Nehemiah  xii:23,   and  again  in  1  Macc.  xvi:24.

(10:54)  This  is  undoubtedly  the  book  referred  to  as  containing the

decree  of  Esther  and  the acts of Mordecai; and which, as we said

with Aben Ezra,  is now lost.  (10:55)  From it were taken the whole con-

tents  of  these  four  books,  for no other authority is quoted by their

writer, or is known to us.

(10:56)  That  these books were not written by either Ezra or Nehemiah

is  plain  from  Nehemiah xii:9,  where  the  descendants  of the high

priest, Joshua are traced down to Jaddua, the sixth high priest, who

went  to  meet  Alexander  the  Great, when the Persian empire was

almost  subdued  (Josephus,  "Ant." ii. 108),   or  who,  according  to

Philo-Judæus, was the sixth and last high priest under the Persians.

(10:57)   In  the  same  chapter  of  Nehemiah,  verse  22,  this  point  is

clearly  brought  out:  "The  Levites  in  the  days of Eliashib, Joiada,

and  Johanan,  and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also

the priests,  to the reign of Darius the Persian"—that is to say, in the

chronicles;  and,  I  suppose,  no  one  thinks  (22)  that  the  lives of

Nehemiah  and  Ezra  were  so prolonged that they outlived fourteen

kings  of Persia.  (10:58)  Cyrus was the first who granted the Jews per-

mission  to  rebuild  their  Temple:  the  period between his time and

Darius,  fourteenth  and  last king of Persia, extends over 230 years.

(10:59)  I  have,  therefore, no doubt that these books were written after

Judas  Maccabæus  had  restored  the worship in the Temple, for at

that  time false books of Daniel, Ezra, and Esther were published by
                                                                                           ]See Shirley's footnote[
evil-disposed  persons,  who  were  almost certainly Sadducees, for

the  writings were never recognized by the Pharisees, so far as I am

aware;  and,  although  certain  myths  in the fourth book of Ezra are

repeated in the Talmud, they must not be set down to the Pharisees,

for  all  but  the  most  ignorant  admit that they have been added by

some  trifler:  in  fact,  I  think,  someone  must  have  made such ad-

ditions   page 152  with  a  view  to  casting  ridicule  on all  the traditions

of the sect.

(10:60) Perhaps these four books were written out and published at the

time  I  have  mentioned  with  a view to showing the people that the

prophecies  of Daniel had been fulfilled, and thus kindling their piety,

and  awakening  a  hope  of  future  deliverance  in the midst of their

misfortunes.  (10:61)  In spite of their recent origin,  the books before us

contain  many  errors,  due,  I  suppose, to the haste with which they

were  written.  (10:62)  Marginal  readings,  such as I have mentioned in

the  last  chapter,  are found here as elsewhere, and in even greater

abundance;  there  are,  moreover, certain passages which can only

be   accounted   for   by   supposing   some   such   cause  as  hurry.

(10:63)  However,  before  calling  attention  to  the  marginal  readings,

I  will  remark  that,  if  the  Pharisees are right in supposing them to

have  been  ancient,  and  the  work of the original scribes, we must

perforce  admit  that these scribes (if there were more than one) set

them  down  because  they  found that the text from which they were

copying  was  inaccurate,  and  did yet not venture to alter what was

written  by  their  predecessors and superiors.  (10:64)  I need not again

go  into the subject at length, and will, therefore, proceed to mention

some discrepancies not noticed in the margin.

(10:65) I.    Some  error  has crept into the text of the second chapter of

Ezra, for in verse 64 we are told that the total of all those mentioned

in  the  rest of the chapter amounts to 42,360; but, when we come to

add  up  the  several items we get as result only 29,818.  (10:66)  There

must,  therefore,  be  an  error,  either  in  the  total,  or in the details.

(10:67)  The  total  is  probably  correct,  for  it would most likely be well

known  to  all  as  a  noteworthy  thing; but with the details, the case

would  be  different.  (10:68)  If,  then,  any  error had crept into the total,

it  would at once have been remarked, and easily corrected.  (69) This

view  is  confirmed  by  Nehemiah vii.,  where  this chapter of Ezra is

mentioned,  and  a  total  is  given  in  plain correspondence thereto;

but  the  details are altogether different—some are larger, and some

less,  than  those  in  Ezra,  and  altogether  they  amount  to 31,089.

(10:70) We may, therefore, conclude that both in Ezra and in Nehemiah

the   page 153  details  are  erroneously  given.  (10:71)  The commentators

who attempt to harmonize these evident contradictions draw on their

imagination,  each  to  the  best  of  his  ability; and while professing

adoration  for  each  letter  and  word  of  Scripture,  only succeed in

holding  up  the  sacred  writers  to ridicule, as though they knew not

how  to  write  or  relate  a plain narrative.  (10:72)  Such persons effect

nothing  but  to  render  the clearness of Scripture obscure.  (73)  If the

Bible  could  everywhere  be  interpreted  after  their  fashion,  there

would  be  no  such thing as a rational statement of which the mean-

ing  could  be  relied on.  (10:74) However, there is no need to dwell on

the subject; only I am convinced that if any historian were to attempt

to imitate the proceedings freely attributed to the writers of the Bible,

the  commentators  would cover him with contempt.  (10:75) If it be blas-

phemy  to  assert  that  there are any errors in Scripture, what name

shall  we  apply  to  those  who  foist  into  it  their own fancies, who

degrade  the  sacred  writers  till  they  seem  to  write confused non-

sense,  and  who  deny  the  plainest  and  most  evident meanings?

(10:76)  What  in  the  whole Bible can be plainer than the fact that Ezra

and  his  companions,  in  the  second chapter of the book attributed

to  him,  have  given  in  detail the reckoning of all the Hebrews who

set  out with them for Jerusalem?  (10:77) This is proved by the reckon-

ing  being  given,  not  only  of those who told their lineage, but also

of  those  who were unable to do so.  (10:78)  Is it not equally clear from

Nehemiah  vii:5,  that  the  writer merely there copies the list given in

Ezra (10:79)  Those,  therefore,  who  explain  these  passages other-

wise,   deny   the   plain   meaning   of   Scripture—nay,   they  deny

Scripture  itself.  (10:80)  They  think  it  pious to reconcile one passage

of  Scripture  with another—a  pretty  piety,  forsooth,  which accom-

modates  the  clear  passages  to  the  obscure,  the  correct  to  the

faulty, the sound to the corrupt.

(10:81)  Far  be  it  from  me  to call such commentators blasphemers, if

their  motives be pure: for to err is human. But I return to my subject.

(10:82)  Besides  these  errors  in  numerical details, there are others in

the  genealogies,  in  the  history,  and,  I fear also in the prophecies.

(10:83)  The  prophecy of  Jeremiah (chap. xxii.), concerning Jechoniah,

evidently  does  not  agree  with  his  history as given in I Chronicles

iii:17-19,  and  especially  with  the  page 154  last words of the chapter,

nor  do  I  see  how  the  prophecy, "thou shalt die in peace," can be

applied  to  Zedekiah,  whose  eyes were dug out after his sons had

been  slain  before  him.  (10:84)  If  prophecies are to be interpreted by

their  issue,  we  must make a change of name, and read Jechoniah

for Zedekiah, and vice versâ.  (10:85) This, however, would be too para-

doxical  a  proceeding;  so  I  prefer  to leave the matter unexplained,

especially  as  the error,  if  error  there  be, must be set down to the

historian, and not to any fault in the authorities.

(10:86)  Other  difficulties  I  will  not touch upon, as I should only weary

the reader, and, moreover, be repeating the remarks of other writers.
See Shirley's footnote[
(10:87)  For  R.  Selomo,  in  face  of  the  manifest  contradiction in the

above-mentioned   genealogies,  is  compelled  to  break  forth  into

these  words  (see  his  commentary on 1 Chron. viii.):  "Ezra (whom

he  supposes  to  be  the author of the book of Chronicles) gives dif-

ferent  names  and  a  different  genealogy  to  the sons of Benjamin

from  those  which  we  find  in  Genesis,  and describes most of the

Levites  differently  from Joshua, because he found original discrep-

ancies. (10:88)  And,  again,  a  little  later:  "The genealogy of Gibeon

and  others is described twice in different ways, from different tables

of  each  genealogy,  and  in  writing  them  down  Ezra  adopted the

version  given  in  the  majority  of  the texts, and when the authority

was  equal  he  gave  both."  (10:89)  Thus  granting  that  these  books

were   compiled   from   sources  originally  incorrect  and  uncertain.

(10:90)  In  fact  the  commentators,  in seeking to harmonize difficulties,

generally  do  no  more  than indicate their causes:  for I suppose no

sane   person   supposes   that   the  sacred  historians  deliberately

wrote  with  the  object of appearing to contradict themselves  freely.

(10:91)  Perhaps  I  shall  be told that I am overthrowing the authority of

Scripture,  for  that, according to me, anyone may suspect it of error

in  any  passage;  but,  on the contrary, I have shown that my object

has  been  to prevent  the  clear  and  uncorrupted  passages  being

accommodated  to  and  corrupted  by  the faulty ones; neither does

the  fact  that  some  passages  are corrupt warrant us in suspecting

all.  (10:92)  No  book  ever  was completely free from faults, yet I would

ask,  who  suspects  all books  to  be  everywhere  faulty?     page 155

(10:93)  Surely  no  one,  especially  when the phraseology is clear and

the intention of the author plain.

(10:94)  I  have  now  finished  the  task  I  set myself with respect to the

books  of  the  {Hebrew Bible}.  (10:95)  We  may  easily conclude from

what  has  been  said,  that  before the time of the Maccabees there

was  no  canon  of  sacred books (23), but that those which we now

possess  were  selected  from  a multitude of others at the period of

the  restoration  of the Temple by the Pharisees (who also instituted

the  set  form of prayers), who are alone responsible for their accept-

ance.  (10:96)  Those,  therefore,  who would demonstrate the authority

of Holy Scripture,  are bound to show the authority of each separate

book;  it  is  not enough to prove the Divine origin of a single book in

order to infer the Divine origin of the rest.  (97)  In that case we should

have  to  assume  that  the council of Pharisees was, in its choice of

books,  infallible,  and  this  could  never  be proved.
 (10:98) I am led to

assert  that  the Pharisees alone selected the books of the {Hebrew

, and inserted them in the canon, from the fact that in Daniel ii.

is  proclaimed  the  doctrine  of  the  Resurrection, which the Saddu-

cees  denied;  and,  furthermore,  the Pharisees plainly assert in the

Talmud  that  they  so  selected  them.   (10:99)  For  in  the  treatise  of

Sabbathus,  chapter ii.,  folio 30,  page 2,   it  is  written: "R. Jehuda,

surnamed  Rabbi,  reports  that  the  experts  wished  to conceal the

book  of  Ecclesiastes  because  they  found therein words opposed

to  the  law (that is, to the book of the law of Moses).  (10:100)  Why did

they not hide it?  (10:101)  Because it begins, {Eccl. 1:3} , in accordance

with the law, and  ends, {Eccl. 12:13}, according  to  the  law;" and a

little  further  on  we  read: "They sought also to conceal the book of

Proverbs"   {Why?  Because  Prov. 26:4 & 5  are  self-contradictory}.

(10:102)  And in  the  first  chapter  of  the  same  treatise,  fol. 13, page 2:

"Verily,  name  one  man for good, even he who was called Neghunja,

the son of Hezekiah: for, save for him, the book of Ezekiel would been

concealed,   because   it   agreed  not,  {Ezek. 44:31; 45:20},  with the

words of the law."

(10:103)  It  is  thus  abundantly  clear  that  men  expert in the law sum-

moned  a  council  to  decide  which  books  should be received into

the  canon,  and which excluded.  (10:104) If any man, therefore, wishes

to  be  certified  as  to  the  authority  of  all  the  books,  let  him call

a fresh council, and ask every member his reasons.

PAGE 156

(10:105)  The time has now come for examining in the same manner the
books  in  the  New Testament; but as I learn that the task has been
already  performed  by  men highly skilled in science and languages,

and  as  I  do  not  myself possess a knowledge of Greek sufficiently

exact  for  the  task;  lastly,  as  we  have  lost  the originals of those
books  which  were  written  in Hebrew, I prefer to decline the under-

taking.  (10:106)  However,  I will touch on those points which have most

bearing on my subject in the following chapter.

End of PART 2 of 4


PART 2 - Chapters VI to X

CHAPTER VI. (p. 81)

Note 6 (p. 84, 270)  "As G-D's existence is not self-evident it must
                           necessarily  be  inferred  from
ideas so  firmly 
                           and  incontrovertibly  true, that no power can 
                           be   postulated   or   conceived   sufficient  to 
                           impugn them." 

 (1)  We  doubt  of  the existence of G-D, and consequently of all else,

so  long  as  we  have  no  clear  and distinct idea of G-D, but only a

confused  one.  (2)  For  as  he  who  knows not rightly the nature of a

triangle,  knows  not  that  its  three  angles  are  equal  to  two  right

angles,  so  he  who  conceives  the  Divine nature confusedly, does

not  see  that  it  pertains  to  the  nature  of  G-D  to exist.  (3) Now, to

conceive  the  nature  of G-D clearly and distinctly, it is necessary to

pay  attention  to  a  certain  number  of  very  simple notions, called
Bk.XIX:28121, 29622.
general  notions,  and  by  their  help  to  associate  the conceptions

which  we  form  of  the  attributes of the Divine Nature.  (4) It then, for

the  first  time, becomes clear to us, that G-D exists necessarily, that

He  is  omnipresent,  and  that  all  our  conceptions involve in them-

selves  the  nature  of  G-D  and  are conceived through it.  (5) Lastly,

we  see  that  all  our adequate ideas are true.   (6)  Compare  on  this

point    the     prologomena    to    book,   "Principles  of  Descartes's

philosophy set forth geometrically."

(p. 98)

Note 7 (p. 108, 270)   (1)  "It  is  impossible  to find a method which would

enable  us  to  gain  a  certain  knowledge  of  all  the  statements in

Scripture."   (2)  I  mean  impossible  for  us who have not the habitual
Bk.XIA:6439.                                         Bk.XIA:6445.
use  of  the  language,  and  have  lost  the  precise  meaning  of  its


Note 8
(p. 1l2, 270)   (1)  "Not  in  things  whereof  the understanding can

gain  a  clear  and  distinct  idea, and which are conceivable through

themselves."   (2)  By  things conceivable I mean not only those which

are  rigidly  proved,  but  also  those  whereof we are morally certain,

and  are  wont to hear without wonder, though they are incapable of

proof.   (3)  Everyone can see the truth of Euclid's propositions before

they  are  proved.  (4)  So  also  the histories of things both future and

past  which  do  not  surpass  human  credence, laws,  page 271 institu-

tions,  manners,  I call conceivable and clear, though they cannot be

proved   mathematically.   (5)  But  hieroglyphics  and  histories  which

seem  to  pass  the  bounds  of  belief  I  call inconceivable; yet even

among  these  last  there  are many which our method enables us to              Metaphors

investigate, and to discover the meaning of their narrator.

(p. 120)

Note 9 (p. 122, 271)   (1)  "Mount  Moriah  is  called  the  mount  of  God."

(2)That  is  by  the  historian,  not  by  Abraham,  for  he  says that the

place  now  called  "In  the  mount  of  the  Lord  it shall be revealed,"

was called by Abraham, "the Lord shall provide."  {Gen 22:7, 8.}

Note 10 (p.124, 271)   (1) "Before that territory [Idumœa] was conquered

by David.  (2)  From  this  time  to  the  reign  of  Jehoram when they

again   separated   from  the  Jewish  kingdom  (2 Kings viii:20),  the

Idumæans  had  no  king,  princes  appointed  by  the Jews supplied

the  place  of kings (1 Kings xxii:48), in fact the prince of Idumæea is

called a king (2 Kings iii:9).

           (3)  It  may be doubted whether the last of the Idumæan kings had

begun  to  reign  before  the accession of Saul, or whether Scripture

in  this  chapter  of Genesis wished to enumerate only such kings as

were  independent.  (4)  It  is  evidently  mere  trifling  to  wish  to enrol

among  Hebrew  kings  the  name  of Moses, who set up a dominion

entirely different from a monarchy.

(p. 125)   BkIX:166         {Shirley  adds  this  footnote.}

] The  Chaldaean  Paraphrast
Jonathan  was  Jonathan  ben Uzziel, 
first  century A.D.,  who  produced  an  Aramaic  (Chaldaean)  trans- 
lation  or  paraphrase  of  the Bible,  called  a Targum.  Maimonides 
held  him  in  high  regard.[ 

"biblical literature" from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. [Accessed August 4, 2003].

CHAPTER IX. (p. 133)

Note 11 (p. 133, 271)  (1) "With few exceptions. (2)  One  of these excep-

tions  is  found in 2 Kings xviii:20, where we read, "Thou sayest (but

they  are  but  vain  words),"  the  second  person  being  used.  (3) In

Isaiah xxxvi:5,  we  read  "I say  (but they are but vain words)  I have

counsel and strength for war,"  and  in  the  twenty-second  verse of

the  chapter  in  Kings  it is written, "But if ye say," the plural number

being  used,  whereas Isaiah gives the singular.  (4) The text in Isaiah

does  not  contain the words found in 2 Kings xxxii:32 (5) Thus there

are  several  cases  of  various  readings  where  it  is  impossible to

distinguish the best.

Note 12
(p. 134, 271)  (1)  "The  expressions  in the two passages are so

varied. (2)  For  instance we read in 2 Sam. vii:6, "But I have walked

in a tent and in a tabernacle."  (3)  Whereas  in  1  Chron.  xvii:5,  "but

have  gone  from  tent  to  tent  and from one tabernacle to another."

(4) In  2  Sam. vii:10, we read, "to afflict them,"  whereas  in  1  Chron.

vii:9,  we  find  a  different  expression.  (5)  I  could point out other dif-

ferences   still   greater,   but  a  single  reading  of  the  chapters  in

question  will  suffice  to  make  them manifest to all who are neither

blind nor devoid of sense.

PAGE 272

Note 13 (p. 134, 272)  (1)  "This  time  cannot  refer  to  what immediately

precedes. (2)  It  is  plain  from  the  context  that  this passage must

allude  to  the  time  when  Joseph  was sold by his brethren.  (3)  But

this  is  not  all.  (4)  We  may  draw the same conclusion from the age

of  Judah,  who  was  than  twenty-two  years  old at most, taking as

basis  of  calculation  his  own  history  just  narrated.    (5)   It  follows,

indeed,  from  the last verse of Gen. xxx., that Judah was born in the

tenth  of  the years of Jacob's servitude to Laban, and Joseph in the

fourteenth.  (6)  Now,  as  we know  that Joseph was seventeen years

old  when  sold  by  his  brethren,  Judah  was  then  not  more  than

twenty-one.  (7)  Hence,  those  writers  who  assert  that Judah's long

absence from his father's house took place before Joseph was sold,

only seek to delude themselves and to call in question the Scriptural

authority which they are anxious to protect.

Note 14
(p. 135, 272)  (1)  "Dinah  was  scarcely  seven  years  old when

she  was  violated by Schechem."   (2) The opinion held by some that

Jacob  wandered  about  eight  or  ten years between Mesopotamia

and  Bethel,  savours  of  the  ridiculous;  if  respect  for  Aben  Ezra,

allows  me  to  say  so.  (3)  For it is clear that Jacob had two reasons

for  haste:  first,  the  desire  to  see  his  old parents; secondly, and

chiefly  to  perform,  the  vow  made  when  he  fled from his brother

(Gen. xxviii:10  and  xxxi:13, and xxxv:1).   (4)   We  read  (Gen. xxxi:3),

that  God  had  commanded  him to fulfill his vow, and promised him

help  for  returning  to  his  country.  (5) If  these considerations seem

conjectures  rather  than  reasons,  I  will  waive the point and admit

that  Jacob,   more  unfortunate  than  Ulysses,  spent  eight  or  ten

years  or  even  longer, in this short journey.  (6)  At any rate it cannot

be denied that Benjamin was born in the last year of this wandering,

that  is  by the reckoning of the objectors, when Joseph was sixteen

or  seventeen  years  old,  for  Jacob  left  Laban  seven  years after

Joseph's  birth.  (7)  Now  from  the seventeenth year of Joseph's age

till  the  patriarch  went  into  Egypt, not more than twenty-two years

elapsed,   as   we  have  shown  in  this  chapter.    (8)   Consequently

Benjamin,  at  the  time of the journey to Egypt, was twenty-three or

twenty-four  at  the most.  (9)  He would therefore have been a grand-

father  in  the  flower  of his age (Gen. xlvi:21, cf. Numb. xxvi:38, 40,

and 1 Chron. viii;1), for it is certain that Bela, Benjamin's eldest son,

had  at  that  time,  two sons, Addai and Naaman.  (10)   This is just as

absurd  as   the  statement  that  Dinah  was  violated  at  the age of

seven,  not  to  mention other impossibilities which would result from

the truth of the narrative.  (11)Thus we see that unskillful endeavours

to  solve  difficulties,  only  raise  fresh  ones,  and  make  confusion

worse confounded.

Note 15
(p. 136 272)  (1)  "Othniel,  son  of  Kenag,  was  judge  for  forty

years."   (2)  Rabbi  Levi  Ben  Gerson  and  others believe that these

forty  years  which  the  Bible  says were passed in freedom, should

be  counted   page 273  from  the  death  of  Joshua, and consequently

include  the  eight  years  during  which  the  people were subject to

Kushan  Rishathaim,  while  the  following  eighteen  years  must be

added  on  to  the eighty years of Ehud's and Shamgar's judgeships.

(3)  In  this  case  it  would  be necessary to reckon the other years of

subjection  among  those  said  by  the  Bible  to  have been passed

in  freedom.  (4)  But  the  Bible  expressly  notes the number of years

of  subjection,  and  the  number  of  years  of  freedom,  and further

declares   (Judges ii:18)   that   the  Hebrew  state  was  prosperous

during  the  whole  time  of the judges.  (5)  Therefore it is evident that

Levi  Ben  Gerson  (certainly  a  very  learned  man), and those who

follow him, correct rather than interpret the Scriptures.

               (6)  The  same  fault  is  committed  by  those  who  assert,   that

Scripture,  by  this  general  calculation  of  years,  only  intended  to

mark  the  period  of  the  regular administration of the Hebrew state,

leaving  out  the  years  of  anarchy  and  subjection  as  periods  of

misfortune  and  interregnum.   (7)  Scripture  certainly passes over in

silence  periods  of  anarchy, but does not, as they dream, refuse to

reckon  them  or  wipe them out of the country's annals.  (8)  It is clear

that  Ezra,  in  1 Kings vi.,  wished to reckon absolutely all the years

since  the  flight  from  Egypt.  (9) This is so plain, that no one versed

in  the  Scriptures  can  doubt  it.  (10)   For,  without  going back to the

precise  words  of  the text, we may see that the genealogy of David

given  at  the  end  of  the  book  of  Ruth,  and  I Chron. ii., scarcely

accounts  for  so  great  a  number  of  years.  (11)  For Nahshon, who

was  prince  of  the tribe of Judah (Numb. vii;11), two years after the

Exodus,  died  in the desert, and his son Salmon passed the Jordan

with  Joshua.  (12)  Now this Salmon, according to the genealogy, was

David's  great-grandfather.   (13) Deducting, then, from the total of 480

years,  four  years  for  Solomon's reign, seventy for David's life, and

forty  for  the  time passed in the desert, we find that David was born

366  years  after  the  passage  of  the  Jordan.  (14)  Hence  we  must

believe  that  David's  father,   grandfather,   great-grandfather,  and

great-great-grandfather   begat   children   when   they  were  ninety

years old.

Note 16
(p. 137,273)  (1) "Samson was judge for twenty years.(2)  Samson

was  born  after  the  Hebrews  had fallen under the dominion of the


Note 17
(p. 139, 273)    (1) Otherwise,  they  rather  correct  than  explain


Note 18
(p. 140, 273)  (1) "Kirjath-jearim."   (2)  Kirjath-jearim  is also called

Baale  of  Judah.  (3)  Hence  Kimchi  and  others think that the words

Baale  Judah, which I have translated "the people of Judah," are the

name  of  a  town.  (4)  But  this  is  not so, for the word Baale is in the

plural.  (5) Moreover, comparing this text in Samuel with I Chron. Xiii:5,

we  find  that David did not rise up and go forth out of Baale, but that

he  went  thither.  (6)  If the author of the book   page 274   of Samuel had

meant to name the place whence David took the ark, he would, if he

spoke  Hebrew  correctly,  have  said,  "David rose up, and set forth

from Baale Judah, and took the ark from thence."

9:92  (p. 142)      Bk.IX:182                {Shirley adds this footnote.}
Massoretes.  A name given to a succession of scholars who laboured 
from about the 6th century to the tenth century to produce an authorita- 
tive  version of  the  Hebrew Bible. They introduced the vowel sounds.[ 

9:108  (p. 144)   Bk.IX:184            {Shirley adds this footnote.}
] The   
Bomberg   Bible  was  printed  by  D. Bomberg  (a  Christian)  at 
Venice 1524-5, edited by Jacob ben Hayyim. [  

"biblical literature" from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 
[Accessed August 4, 2003].


CHAPTER X. (p. 146)

10:7  (p. 146)   Bk.IX:186            {Shirley adds this footnote.}

] Judaeus  
Philo,  also  called  Philo  of Alexandria  c. 15 B.C. - 45 A.D.
was the most   important   representative   of  Hellenic  Judaism,   and
wrote  widely  on  philosophy  with  Platonic  leanings. [ 

Note 19 (p. 146, 274)  (1)  "After  the  restoration  of the Temple by Judas

Maccabœus. (2)  This  conjecture,  if  such  it  be,  is founded on the

genealogy  of  King Jeconiah, given in 1 Chron. iii., which finishes at

the  sons  of  Elioenai,   the  thirteenth  in  direct  descent  from  him:

whereon  we  must  observe  that Jeconiah, before his captivity, had

no children; but it is probable that he had two while he was in prison,

if  we  may  draw any inference from the names he gave them.  (3)  As

to  his  grandchildren,  it  is  evident  that  they  were  born  after  his

deliverance,  if  the  names be any guide, for his grandson, Pedaiah

(a  name  meaning  God  hath  delivered me), who, according to this

chapter, was the father of Zerubbabel, was born in the thirty-seventh

or  thirty- eighth  year  of  Jeconiah's  life,  that  is  thirty-three  years

before  the  restoration of liberty to the Jews by Cyrus.  (4)  Therefore

Zerubbabel,  to  whom  Cyrus  gave  the  principality of Judæa, was

thirteen  or fourteen years old.   (5)  But we need not carry the inquiry

so   far:   we  need  only  read  attentively  the  chapter  of  1 Chron.,

already   quoted,   where  (v. 17, sqq.)  mention  is  made  of  all  the

posterity  of  Jeconiah,  and  compare  it with the Septuagint version

to   see   clearly   that   these  books  were  not  published,  till  after

Maccabæus   had   restored   the   Temple,  the  sceptre  no  longer

belonging to the house of Jeconiah.

Note 20
(p. 148, 274)   (1)   "Zedekiah   should   be   taken   to   Babylon."

(2)  No  one  could  then have suspected that the prophecy of Ezekiel

contradicted  that of Jeremiah, but the suspicion occurs to everyone

who reads the narrative of Josephus.  (3)  The event proved that both

prophets were in the right.

Note 21
(p. 150, 274) (1) "And who wrote Nehemiah. (2) That the greater

part  of  the  book  of Nehemiah was taken from the work composed

by  the  prophet  Nehemiah himself, follows from the testimony of its

author. (See chap. i.).  (3) But it is obvious that the whole of the pass-

age  contained  between chap. viii. and chap. xii. verse 26, together

with  the  two  last  verses  of  chap. xii.,  which form a sort of paren-

thesis  to  Nehemiah's  words,  were  added by the historian himself,

who outlived Nehemiah.

Note 22
(p. 151, 274)  (1)  I suppose  no  one  thinks"  that Ezra was the

uncle  of  the  first  high  priest,  named  Joshua  (see  Ezra vii., and

1 Chron. vi:14),  and  went  to  Jerusalem  from Babylon with Zerub-

babel  (see Nehemiah xii:1).  (2)  But  it  appears  that  when  he  saw,

that  the  Jews  were  in  a state of anarchy, he returned to Babylon,

as  also  did  others  (Nehem. i;2),  and remained page 275  there till the

reign  of  Artaxerxes, when his requests were granted and he went a

second time to Jerusalem.  (3) Nehemiah also went to Jerusalem with

Zerubbabel  in  the  time  of  Cyrus   (Ezra ii:2  and  63,  cf. x:9,  and

Nehemiah x:1).  (4) The version given of the Hebrew word, translated

"ambassador,"  is  not  supported by any authority, while it is certain

that  fresh  names  were  given  to  those  Jews  who frequented the

court.  (5)  Thus  Daniel  was  named  Balteshazzar,  and  Zerubbabel

Sheshbazzar  (Dan. i:7).   (6)  Nehemiah  was  called Atirsata, while in

virtue  of  his  office  he  was  styled governor, or president. (Nehem.

v. 24, xii:26.)

(p. 151)   BkIX:191    "Sadducees"    {Shirley adds this footnote.}

] A conservative sect, belonging mainly to the upper class and associ-
ated with  the  priestly  families.   On  certain  matters  of doctrine they
differed from the  Pharisees,  who,  according  to  Josephus,  'profess 
to  be  more  religious  than  the  rest  and  to  explain  the  laws  more 
precisely.' [ 

10:87  (p. 154)   BkIX:194            {Shirley adds this footnote.}

] R. 
Selomo--this  is  R.  Selomo  Yitzhaki,   1040 - 1105,   better  known
by  the  abbreviation  Rashi.   A   French  rabbinical scholar,  whose com-
mentary on the Bible  won  great  fame. [ 
     { Rashi's  style is to tersely define, explain, or comment.  Hypertexting 
       would  have  afforded  a  great convenience in linking the word to its 
       comment. } 

Note 23 (p. 155, 275)  (1)  "Before  the  time  of  the Maccabees there was

no  canon  of  sacred books."  (2)  The  synagogue  styled  "the great"

did  not  begin  before  the  subjugation of Asia by the Macedonians.

(3)  The  contention  of Maimonides, Rabbi Abraham, Ben-David, and

others,  that  the  presidents  of  this  synagogue  were Ezra, Daniel,

Nehemiah,  Haggai,  Zechariah,  &c.,  is  a  pure fiction, resting only

on  rabbinical  tradition.  (4)  Indeed  they  assert  that the dominion of

the  Persians  only  lasted  thirty-four  years,  and  this  is their chief

reason  for  maintaining  that  the  decrees of the "great synagogue,"

or   synod   (rejected   by   the   Sadducees,   but   accepted  by  the

Pharisees)  were  ratified  by  the prophets, who received them from

former  prophets,  and  so  in  direct  succession  from  Moses,  who

received  them  from God Himself.  (5)  Such is the doctrine which the

Pharisees   maintain   with  their  wonted  obstinacy.   (6)  Enlightened

persons,  however,  who  know  the  reasons  for  the  convoking  of
councils,   or   synods,   and   are   no strangers  to  the  differences

between  Pharisees  and  Sadducees,  can easily divine the causes

which  led  to  the  assembling of this great synagogue.   (7)  It is very

certain  that  no prophet was there present, and that the decrees of

the  Pharisees,   which  they  style  their  traditions,  derive  all  their

authority from it.


From Tape 1 - Lecture 5 - TB1:60—Omnipotence and Omniscience. 

From Alfred J. Kolatch's "This is the Torah", ISBN: 0824603303, 1988, Pages 223, 375.
missing parts}
Why did the Masoretes sometimes include incomplete sentences in the Torah {The hand-written scrolls that are read in the Synagogue--the five Books of Moses}

Note TTP2:Smith's Bk.XIA:56—Triflers 

From Alfred J. Kolatch's "This is the Torah", ISBN: 0824603303, 1988, Pages 219-220.
marginal notes}
Why does one find Hebrew words in small type around the perimeter of the text in many editions of the Torah
                             {Printed and hand-written editions of the five Books of Moses ^ }

 End of Endnotes to Part 2.

Since November 6, 1997 Part 2 hits.

A Theologico-Political Treatise - Part 2
Revised: January 17, 2006 



Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 ,  Part 4