the ability, while awake , to i mag in e s o me thing a s vividly a s if on e had
the o bje ct in fron t of on e. But if the re we re anyon e who p o s s e s s e d a
di¡e ren t me ans of p e rcepti on and a di¡e ren t bas is of c o g nit ion, he would
u ndoubte dly su r pa s s the li mits of human natu re.
[C hapte r
A n notatio n
4 : (p. 47) ‘to the patri archs’: Ge n e s is ch.
tells how Go d told
Ab raham that he wa s his defe nde r and would g ive hi m a ve r y g reat reward ;
to which Ab raham re pli e d, that he had nothing ve r y much to exp e ct s ince
in extre me old age he re maine d st ill childle s s.
A n notatio n
5 (p. 47) ‘s e cu r ity of life’: It is cle ar fro m Mark 10 .21 that to
win eternal life it is not enough to keep the commandments of the Old
[C hapte r
6 (p. 84) ‘Since the existence of God is not known of itself’:
as long as our idea of Him is confused, and not clear and distinct, we are
in doubt about the existence of God, and consequently about everything.
For just as someone who does not comprehend a triangle properly does
not know that its three angles are equal to two right angles, so anyone
with a confused conception of the divine nature does not see that it
belongs to the nature of God to exist. In order to conceive the nature of
God clearly and distinctly, we
must take notice of certain very simple
ideas that are called common notions and connect the things that belong
to the divine nature with them. It will become evident to us, ¢rst, that
God necessarily exists and is everywhere, secondly, at the same time,
that all the things that we conceive involve the nature of God in them-
selves and are conceived by means of it, and, ¢nally, that everything that
we adequately conceive is true. On this point, see the Introduction to the
book entitled The Principles of Philosophy Demonstrated by the Geometrical
That is, Benedict de Spinoza, Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy Demonstrated by the Geometrical
[C hapte r
7 (p. 106) ‘it is impossible to devise a method’: For us, that is,
who are unfamiliar with this language and ignorant of its idioms.
8 (p. 110) ‘conception’: By intelligible things I mean not only
things which are correctly demonstrated but also those that we regularly
accept with moral certainty and hear without surprise. Everyone com-
prehends the propositions of Euclid before they are demonstrated. I
would also say that accounts of things relating to the future and the past
which are not beyond men’s belief, as well as laws, practices and customs,
are also intelligible and clear, even though they cannot be mathematically
demonstrated. But sacred signs and stories that seem to exceed what is
believable, I call unintelligible. Even so, they o¡er a good deal that can be
investigated by our method and enable us to understand the mind of the
[C hapte r
9 (p. 120) ‘Mount Moriah’: That is, by the historian, not
by Abraham; for he says that the place which today is called, ‘it shall
be revealed on the mountain of God’, was called by Abraham ‘God will
10 (p. 122) ‘conquered’:
From this time until the reign of
Joram when they revolted from him (
2 Kings 8.20), the Idumaeans did
not have kings. Governors appointed by the Jews took their place (see
and that is why the governor of Idumaea (
2 Kings 3.9) is
called a ‘king’. But it may be questioned whether the last of the Idumaean
kings began to reign before Saul was made king or whether in this
chapter of Genesis Scripture meant only to speak of kings who were
It is absolute nonsense to include Moses in the list of the
kings: by his divine inspiration he instituted a form of state for the
Hebrews that was at the opposite pole from monarchy.
1 Kings 22.47 in RSV.
‘And glorious’ [in Dutch].
[C hapte r
11 (p. 131) ‘with the exception of a few details’: For example,
2 Kings 18.20 says, in the second person, amarta,‘you have said it, but
with your mouth only’, etc., whereas Isaiah
36.5 has amarti, which means,
‘ I have said it, these are certainly my words, that war needs strategy and
2 Kings 18.22 reads ‘but perhaps you will say’ in the
plural, whereas, in Isaiah’s version, it is in the singular. Moreover, in the
text of Isaiah these words (from
2 Kings 18.32) are not found: ‘a land of
olive oil and honey, so that you may live and not die; and do not listen to
Many more such variant readings are encountered, and no
one will be able to decide which one is to be preferred.
12 (p.131)‘noticeablyaltered’:For example,2 Samuel7.6 reads,
‘and I have been constantly travelling in a tabernacle and a tent’ whereas
1 Chronicles 17.5 has,‘and I have gone from tent to tent and from tabernacle
. . .’, where obviously mithalek has been changed to me
´ohe´l, ohe´l to el-ohe´l and
bemishkan to mimishkan. Again,
2 Samuel 7.10 has ‘to a¥ict him’, whereas
1 Chronicles 17.9 says ‘to waste him’.
Even on a ¢rst reading of these chap-
ters, anyone who is not completely obtuse or utterly mad will see many dis-
crepancies of this kind, including some of still greater signi¢cance.
13 (p. 131) ‘That ‘‘time’’ must necessarily be related to some
other time’: It is clear from the context of the phrase itself that the
text refers to the time when Joseph was sold and no other. It may also be
inferred from the actual age of Judah, who at that point was in his twenty-
second year at the most, if we calculate from the story about him which
comes just before. For it emerges from the ¢nal verse of Genesis
Judah was born in the tenth year after the patriarch Jacob began to serve
Laban and Joseph
was born in the fourteenth year. Since Joseph himself
17 when he was sold, Judah at that point in time was 21 years
old, and no more. Those who believe that this long absence of Judah from
home occurred before Joseph’s sale are simply trying to calm their own
anxieties and have more worries than certainties about Scripture’s divinity.
14 (p. 132) ‘On the other hand Dinahwas scarcely seven years
old’: the view of some commentators that Jacob spent eight or ten years
‘That is why I do not doubt that they are substituted words’ [in French].
‘At a very advanced age’.