A n notatio n
20 (p. 138) ‘and st aye d the re for thre e ye ars’:
[French only.] Tho s e who have trouble d to c o m me n t on this text , have
e me nde d it a s follows : ‘and Ab s alom £ e d and to ok refuge with Tal mai, the
s on of Ham mihud, king of Ge shu r, whe re he re maine d for thre e ye ars , and
David m ou r n e d for his s on all the t i me he wa s at Ge shu r ’. But if that is
what you c all in te r pre t at ion, and if it is p e r mitte d to g ive on e s elf this much
lice ns e in explic at ing Scr iptu re and transpos e entire claus es like this , add-
ing one thing and supp-ressing another, then surely it is permitted to cor-
rupt Scripture and give it as many shapes as one wishes, like a piece of wax.
[C hapte r
21 (p. 144) ‘perhaps even after Judas Maccabaeus had
restored theTemple’:This suggestion, if anything of the sort can be called
a suggestion, derives from the genealogy of king Jeconiah given at
which continues as far as the sons of Elioenai who were the
thirteenth generation on from him.
We should note that this Jeconiah
did not have any children at the time of his imprisonment.To judge from
the names he gave them, he seemingly begat
his children in the prison
and seems to have had his grandchildren, so far as can also be con-
jectured from their names, after he was freed. Thus Pedaiah (which
means ‘God has freed’) who is said, in this chapter, to have been ‘the
father of Zerubbabel’, was born’ in
37 or 38 of Jeconiah’s captivity,
33 years before king Cyrus gave the Jews leave [to return]. Conse-
quently Zerubbabel, whom Cyrus made governor of the Jews, seems to
have been at most
13 or 14 years old. But I would have preferred to pass
over all this in silence for reasons which our di⁄cult times
do not allow
me to explain. For the informed reader, it is enough just to mention this.
Those who are willing to go through the whole list of the descendants of
Jeconiah given in
1 Chronicles 3 from verse 17 to the end of the chapter,
with some attention, and to compare the Hebrew text with the transla-
tion which is called the Septuagint, will without di⁄culty be able to see
that these books were revised after the second restoration of the city
This Annotation exists in French only.
1 Chronicles 3.17^24.
‘In the direct line’ [in French].
‘Two’ [in French].
Instead of ‘our di⁄cult times’, Spinoza originally wrote here ‘iniuriae et superstitio regnans’
[injustice and the prevailing superstition]. The caution Spinoza signals here presumably has to
do with the Scriptural genealogy of Christ which is hereby brought into question.
achieved by Judas Maccabeus. By that time the descendants of Jeconiah
had lost the leadership, but not before.
22 (p. 147) ‘taken’: And so no one would have suspected that
his prophecy contradicted the prophecy of Jeremiah, though Josephus’
account made everyone believe it did, until they knew from the actual event
that both men predicted the truth.
23 (p. 148) ‘Nehemiah’: The historian himself tells us
1.1) that the greater part of this book was taken from the book
which Nehemiah himself wrote. It is certain, though, that the narrative
8.1 to 12.26 is an interpolation, and so are the two ¢nal verses of
, which are inserted as a parenthesis into the words of
24 (p. 149) ‘Ezra’: Ezra was the uncle of the ¢rst High Priest
Joshua (see Ezra
7.1 and 1 Chronicles 6.13^15), and set out from Babylon to
Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (see Nehemiah
12.1). But it seems that when he
saw that the a¡airs of the Jews were
in chaos, he returned to Babylon, as
others did also; this is clear from Nehemiah
1.2. He remained there until
Artaxerxes’ reign when, after obtaining what he wanted, he set out a second
time for Jerusalem: see Ezra
2.2 and 63, and compare with Nehemiah 10.2
12.1. Though translators render Hatirschata, by ‘envoy’, they give no
example to prove it, and on the other hand it is certain that new names
were given to Jews who had to frequent the court. Thus Daniel was called
Balteshazzar, and Zerubbabel was called Sheshbazzar (see Daniel
1.8 and 5.14) and Nehemiah was called Hatirschata. Due to his o⁄ce,
though, he was habitually addressed as ‘procurator’ or ‘governor’: see
5.14 and 12.26.
25 (p. 153) ‘that no canon of sacred books ever existed before
the time of the Maccabees’: The so-called ‘Great Synagogue’ did not
begin until after the conquest of Asia by the Macedonians.
of Maimonides, Rabbi Abraham ben David and others that the presidents
of this council were Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and so
‘It is therefore certain that AtirsÅatha is a proper name, like Hatselephoni, Hatsobeba (1 Chronicles
4.3,8), Halloghes (Nehemiah 10.25), and so on’ [in French].
Elsewhere Spinoza dates this conquest from the death of Darius III in
330 bc. See p. 149.
on, is a r idiculous ¢ct ion, and re sts on no othe r fou ndat ion than rabbini -
c al tradit ion, which ins ists that the Pe rs ian e mp ire la ste d a me re thir ty-
fou r ye ars. This is the only way they c an argue that the de cre e s of this
Grea t Synago gue or Syno d which wa s c o mp o s e d s olely of Phar is e e s
we re acce pte d by the prophe ts ,
who had rece ive d the m from othe r
prophets , and s o on r igh t back to Mo s e s , who rece ive d the m fro m Go d
hims elf and hande d the m on to p o ste r ity by word of m outh not in w r it ing.
The Phar is e e s [ i.e., the rabbis] may p e rsist in b eli eving the s e thing s with
the ir usual o b st inacy; but exp e r ts , who know the re a s ons for c ou nc ils and
syno ds and who are als o aware of the c on trove rs i e s b e twe e n the Phar is e e s
and the Sadduce e s will re adily b e able to infe r the rea s ons why this G re at
Synagogue or Council was called. It is certain in any case that no prophet
participated in this Council, and
that the decrees of the Pharisees which
they call traditions,
received their authority from this Council.
[C hapte r
26 (p. 155) ‘we think’: Translators render logizomai in this
passage ‘conclude’ and argue that Paul is using it in much the same sense
as sullogizomai, despite the fact that the Greek word logizomai has the
same meaning as hashab, which is ‘reckon’,‘think’,‘estimate’. Taken in this
sense logizomai agrees very well with the Syriac (i.e. Aramaic) text. For
the Syriac translation (if indeed it is a translation, which may be doub-
ted, since we know neither the translator nor the time of publication,
and the native language of the Apostles was actually Syriac)
this text of Paul as methrahgenan hachil, which Tremellius
translates as ‘we therefore think’. For rehg jono, the noun which is formed
from this verb, means ‘thought’; for rehg jono is rehgutha in Hebrew
(‘will’); hence ‘we want’ or ‘we think’.
‘Which were rejected by the Sadducees’ [in French].
According to this tradition, the Presidents of the Grand Synagogue were the three latest prophets,
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
‘About which they have made such a noise’ [in French].
The language Spinoza calls ‘Syriac’ is now generally called Aramaic.
Tremellius prepared an edition of the New Testament in which he set out in four columns
the Greek text, the Syriac text and Latin translations of both. Spinoza generally relies upon
Tremellius’ Latin translation of the Syriac text, which he suggests here was the original text.