meditating at leisure in an academy. I would also believe along with Ibn
Ezra that this text was translated from another language, since it seems
to aspire to emulate gentile poetry. The father of the gods twice calls a
council, and Momus, here called Satan, criticizes God’s words with the
greatest freedom, etc.; but these are only conjectures and not solidly based.
9] I pass to the book of Daniel, which without doubt, from chapter
consists of writings by Daniel himself. I do not know where the seven earlier
chapters were drawn from: since they
were composed in Chaldaic (except
), we may suspect that they come from Chaldean chronicles.Were
this clearly established, it would be the most convincing possible evidence
proving that Scripture is sacred only in so far as we understand through it
the things signi¢ed there, but not as regards the words, or language and
forms of discourse, in which the things are expressed. Furthermore, it
would prove that all books expounding and teaching the highest things are,
no matter what language they are written in ^ or by whom, equally sacred.
As it is, we can at least take note that these chapters were written in Chaldaic
[i.e. Aramaic] and yet are as sacred as the rest of the Bible.
10] The opening book of Ezra is so closely connected with the book of
Daniel that it is easy to tell that it is the same writer continuing his orderly
narrative of the a¡airs of the Jews from the time of the ¢rst captivity.
Likewise, the Book of Esther, I have no doubt, is connected with this book.
The conjunction with which Esther begins can refer to no other text. For it
is not credible that this is the book that Mordecai wrote. In
9.20^2, a third
person, referring to Mordecai, records that he wrote letters and indicates
what they contained. Then at verse
31 of the same chapter, he states that
Queen Esther con¢rmed by edict the arrangements pertaining to the fes-
tival of the Lots (Purim), and that this was written in ‘the book’, i.e. (as the
Hebrew expression implies) in a book that was known to everybody at that
time to contain these things. Ibn Ezra concedes, as everyone must, that
this book perished along with others. Finally, the chronicler refers us,
for Mordecai’s other activities, to the Chronicles of the Persian Kings.
Hence, there is no doubt that Esther too was penned by the same narrator
who wrote the books of Daniel and Ezra, as well as that of Nehemiah,
since that is called ‘the second book of Ezra’. Consequently, these four
Spinoza’s footnote: see Annotation
books ^ Daniel, Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah ^ we assert were written by
one and the same author, though I cannot even guess who he was.
Whoever he was, we can discover how he obtained his knowledge of
these histories and the source from which he probably transcribed the
greater part of them. For we know that the governors or rulers of the
Jews in the Second Temple period, had, like the kings of the First Tem-
ple period, scribes or chroniclers who wrote down their annals or his-
tories in chronological order. The Chronicles or Annals of the Kings are
cited frequently in the text of
1 and 2 Kings. The Annals and Chronicles
of the rulers and priests of the Second
Temple are cited ¢rst at Nehe-
12.23 and later at 1 Maccabees 16.24. This, surely, is the book (see
9.31) we referred to just now where Esther’s edict and those of
Mordecai were set out and which, we agreed with Ibn Ezra, had perished.
Thus, from these Annals or Chronicles the whole content of these books
appears to have been extracted or copied; for their author cites no other
source and we know of no other recognized authority.
11] It is certain, however, that these books were not written either by
Ezra or Nehemiah since Nehemiah
12.10^11 gives a genealogy of the
High Priests from Jeshua to Jaddua, the sixth high priest, who met
Alexander the Great at the time the Persian empire was on the point of
being conquered (see Josephus Antiquities
11.8), or, as Philo Judaeus calls
him in his Book of Times,
the sixth and last Priest under the Persians.
Indeed, the fact is plainly indicated again in this same chapter of Nehe-
22: ‘the Levites’, says the chronicler,‘in the time of Eliashab,
Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, were recorded’ (i.e., in the ‘Chronicles’)
the reign of Darius the Persian’. No one supposes, I imagine, that
or Nehemiah were so long-lived as to outlive the fourteen kings of
Persia. For it was the ¢rst Persian king, Cyrus,
who gave the Jews per-
mission to rebuild the Temple, and it was more than
230 years from his
time to that of King Darius,
fourteenth and last king of the Persians.
I have no doubt, therefore, that these books were composed long after
Judas Maccabeus restored worship in theTemple, and the reason why they
Breviarium de temporibus: see n.
Spinoza’s footnote: nb Unless ‘supra’ means ‘beyond’, this is an error of the copyist, who wrote
‘above’ instead of ‘until’.
Spinoza’s footnote: see Annotation
Darius III, reigned c.
Remaining Old Testament books
we re w r itte n wa s that spu r ious b o oks of Dani el, Ez ra and Esther we re
b e ing publishe d at that t i me by ce r t ain malc on te n ts , who we re doubtle s s of
the s e ct of the Sadduce e s , s ince the Phar is e e s n eve r acce pte d the s e b o oks
s o far a s I know. Although a nu mb e r of fable s are to b e fou nd in the b o ok
c alle d
4 Ez ra which we als o re ad in the Tal mud, we should not for that
re a s on a s cr ib e the m to the Phar is e e s , for, a s ide from a few ig noramus e s ,
they all acce pt that the s e stor i e s we re added by s o me c onc o ctor of fable s.
This wa s don e , s o I b eli eve , by ce r t ain p e rs ons to make the Phar is aic tra -
dit ions lo ok r idiculous.
Othe rwis e , p o s s ibly the s e b o oks we re trans cr ib e d and publishe d at this
t i me for this re a s on: to show the p e ople that the prophe c i e s of Dani el had
b e e n ful¢lle d and thus stre ngthe n
the m in the ir relig ion, s o that, amid all
the ir c alamit i e s , they would not despair of futu re s e cu r ity and s e e ing b e tte r
t i me s. But tr uly, eve n though the s e b o oks are s o re ce n t and n ew, nume rous
e r rors , u nle s s I am mist ake n, have crept in to the m owing to the ha ste of the
c opyists. For s eve ral marg inal note s , like tho s e we dis cus s e d in the
vious chapte r
, are to b e fou nd in the s e b o oks a s in the othe rs , and s o me
pa s s age s c annot b e explain e d in any othe r way, a s I shall now show.
12] But b efore doing s o, a word ab out the marg inal re ading s in the s e
b o oks. Eve n if we must g ran t the Phar is e e s that the marg inal reading s are
as ancient as the compilers of the books themselves, it is still essential to
state that these editors (if there really were more than one) made these
notes because they found that the chronicles from which they copied them
were not written with su⁄cient care and while some errors were obvious,
they did not dare to emend the writings of their elders and ancestors. Nor
do I need to discuss this any further, and so will go on to point out a
number of slips which are not noted in the margins.
13] (1) There are I do not know how many mistakes which have crept
into Ez ra chapte r
64 st ate s the tot al of all the p e ople who are
mentioned in separate groups throughout the chapter: there are said to be
42,360 of them. However if you add the totals for each group, you arrive at
no more than
29,818.Therefore, there is a mistake here either in the ¢nal
¢gure or the sub-totals. But it seems credible that the total would have
been correctly transmitted, since doubtless everyone remembered it by
heart as a memorable fact. The same cannot be said, though, of the partial
¢gures. Had a mistake crept into the ¢nal total, it would have been