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The passage from the tenth, or in some versions 
eleventh, chapter of the Mishna Tractate Sanhedrin on 
which this essay of Maimonides is a commentary is the 
" locus classicus " for the dogma question in Judaism. It 
is noteworthy that the formulation of dogmas in Jewish 
theological literature had a comparatively late origin. 
It was not the habit of the Rabbins of the Talmud to 
dogmatize on conduct and life. Wherever they are found 
doing so we must seek the reasons in historical causes. 
The Rabbins were often called upon to defend their own 
views and expositions of Scripture from the attacks of 
heretics and apostates. And one can clearly see from the 
tone and contents of this Mishna of Sanhedrin that it is 
in substance an answer to several points of contemporary 
controversy. Such words and phrases as ]'<t2, Dllp^SN, 
D'oisnn ansDa Nnip, unmistakably savour of dispute within 
the Jewish Camp. It is not the purpose of this article, 
however, to discuss the exact meaning of these terms. In 
general it may be said that they refer to individual 
men or sects among the Jews whose theological opinions 
were both in theory and practice at variance with 
the accredited views of the day, and called forth their 
protests. It was not until the time of the rise of the 
philosophical schools that the Jews withdrew from their 
hitherto exclusive devotion to the Talmud, and began that 
philosophical investigation into the fundamental principles 
of Judaism which gave birth to such a large crop of 
Jewish dogmatists for several successive centuries. The 
first dogmatists were the Karaites. The Karaite scholar 


Jehuda Hadassi^ in the middle of the twelfth century, 
following previous views among his sect, laid down twelve 
fundamental articles of the Jewish faith. The first Rabbanite 
to oppose the doctrines of these predecessors of Jehuda 
Hadassi, and to show in general the untenable and self- 
contradictory doctrines of Karaism.was the famous R. Sa'adia 
Gaon in the tenth century. Sa'adia at the same time 
subjected Rabbinical Judaism to philosophical tests, and 
thereby gave his successors the twofold impetus to philo- 
sophical studies and the formulation of dogma in Jewish 
theology. The most eminent successors of Sa'adia were 
Jehuda Halevi (in his Cusari), and Abraham ben David 
(Rabad) (in his Emuna Rama). All three may be said to 
have been the most distinguished predecessors of Maimonides 
in this field. 

Maimonides went further than his pi'edecessors. The 
latter did not particularize. Their object consisted in 
justifying and expounding Judaism in general on philo- 
sophical and historical grounds. Maimonides set himself 
a more practical object. He wanted every Israelite to 
know exactly what were the things he was expected to 
believe, so as to be entitled to call himself a Jew, and 
expect others to do so. With this matter-of-fact motive 
in his mind he tabulated his views on the Jewish faith, 
wrote them down in concise language free from ambiguity, 
and called them the thirteen fundamental Articles. Hence- 
forward Maimonides became the fountain-head of all the 
dogmatic literature produced by the Jews down to the end 
of the fifteenth century. Everything in this particulai* 
sphere of Jewish theology revolved i-ound his name. 
" A century had hai'dly elapsed," says Professor Schechter, 
" before the Thirteen Articles had become a theme for the 
poets of the synagogue. And almost every country where 
Jews lived can show a poem or a prayer founded on these 
Articles. R. Jacob Molin (1420) of Germany speaks of 
metiical and rhymed songs in the German language, the 
burden of which was the Thirteen Articles, and which were 


read by the common people with great devotion. The 
numerous commentaries and homilies written on the same 
topic would form a small library in themselves " (Studies 
in Judaism, p. aoo). 

Briefly summarized, the following would seem to be the 
most noteworthy features of this essay of Maimonides : — 

(a) The five different classes of people who erroneously 
entertain material notions of future Keward and Punish- 
ment, basing their ideas on a literal interpretation of 
Scripture and the Rabbinical writings. 

(6) Maimonides' exposition of the Jew's duty to study 
the Law for its own sake, and not for any ulterior material 
end. He must seek truth for truth's sake, so as to be 
enabled to know and practise all the ordinances of the 
Torahj which ia the highest and holiest form of truth. 

(c) The author's illustration of the foregoing by the 
metaphor of the young pupil, who, at the commencement 
of his studies has to be coaxed by the promise of all kinds 
of childish gifts, but who, with advancing years, gradually 
comes to understand that the main object of his studies 
is not the obtaining of these gifts, but the attainment of 

(d) Maimonides' theory that Rewards and Punishments 
are only a concession to the average man's inability to 
devote himself to the highest pursuit of truth, or to refrain 
from the path of evil, unless he is in the former case 
spurred on by the thought and expectation of ulterior 
material gain, or in the latter case deterred by the threat 
of physical punishment and loss. After long-continued 
exercise these material aids to devotion, to uprightness, 
and to the avoidance of evil-doing become unnecessary. 
Man becomes spontaneously led on to righteousness. He 
becomes an nan^D "T3"iy, serving God for the pure love of 

(e) Maimonides' further development of this theory. 
Virtue leads on to virtue ; vice inevitably brings vice in 
its train. God helps the doer of righteousness to higher 


and higher flights of righteousness. He fi.lls the way of 
the wrong-doer with all kinds of obstacles to the Good 
and the True. In this way the true performer of the 
precepts of the Torah (which is the highest kind of virtue) 
attains the highest state of perfection. He reaches the 
type of the perfect man. When man is thus perfected he 
does right and eschews wrong, not because he entei-tains 
any hopes or fears about Paradise or Gehinnom, or the 
Days of the Messiah or the World to come, but simply 
because he is Man. It is his perfected manhood that of 
itself leads him on to the complete understanding and 
performance of the word of God. His soul, after the death 
of the body, can then enter the state that befits it, viz. the 
world to come. In the Maimonidean conception, then, the 
" world to come " is a synonym for the highest-developed 
state of the soul of the self-perfected man. 

(/) Maimonides' view of the Immortality of the Soul. 
According to him, it is only the intellectual element in the 
soul that can secure immortality. It follows from this that 
the simple-minded man, be he ever so virtuous, is excluded 
from future existence, which will only be the lot of the 
thinkers whose acquired intelligence, according to the 
Aristotelians, becomes part of the " active divine intelli- 
gence" and thus attains perfection and permanence. This 
view met with strong opposition — notably by Chisdai 
Crescas in his Or Adonoi who also had much fault to 
find with Maimonides' Thirteen Articles of Faith. 

(g) The interesting fulness with which Maimonides in 
his seventh Article of Faith speaks of the prophetic faculty 
possessed by Moses, and the four ways in which the nature 
of his prophecy differed from and ranked higher than that 
of aU other prophets. 

I have based my translation upon the edition (Arabic 
and Hebrew in parallel columns) of J. Holzer's Mose 
Maimuni's Einleitung zu CheleJc, Berlin, 1901. 

J. Abelson. 


Maimonides on the Jewish Creed. 

All Israel have a portion in the world to come, as it is said 
(Isa. Ix. 2i), " And thy people shall be all righteous ; they shall inherit 
the land for ever." The following have no portion in the world 
to come: — 

(a) He who denies the resurrection of the dead ^. 

(h) He who denies the divine origin of the Torah. 

(c) The unbeliever ^. 
Rabbi Akiba would include among these the following two : — 

(a) He who reads heretical books'. 

(h) He who whispers a charm over a wound. 

^ Holzer adopts the reading of D'nort n^nn J*N, and not the fuller reading 
min JO D'non n"nn )>>», which is the usual one found in the ordinary 
editions of the Talmud and adopted by Eashi. According to the longer 
reading, a man has no portion in the world to come even if he believes 
in the resurrection but denies that it is alluded to in the Torah. Holzer 
believes this to be a later addition, because it is not found in the MSS. he 
used, neither does it occur in the naiajn mbn of the Mishna Torah. He 
also instances the commentary to Sanhedrin of Meir Halevi, entitled 
nai T, where the reading is simply dtidh n"nra iDUn. The shorter reading 
is also found in the Mishnah of the Palestinian Talmud, ed. Lowe. It 
is interesting to note how much turns upon this point in the elaborate 
discussion of the matter in Sanhedrin. Eashi ingeniously shows why 
a man fox-feits the world to come even if he admits the fact of the 
resurrection but refuses to admit the existence of any Biblical hint to 
the fact. 

* The translation "unbeliever" seems the usually accepted one. In 
the rra« we get Dnip'CS^ a'sjna) na m " Know what answer to give to the 
unbeliever." Maimonides, however, seems to use it in quite a new sense. 
He regards it as an Aramaic word from the root ipD "to treat as of 
little importance," "to despise." Hence, says he, its original meaning is, 
" He who holds the Torah in light esteem." From this, it has come to be 
applied to him who does not believe in the fundamental principles of the 
Torah, or to him who despises the old Jewish Sages, or any Jewish Sage 
or teacher. Maimonides uses the word in this comprehensive significance 
(see Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p. 192). 

* " Heretical books." According to Sanhedrin (99 b) these are D'pns nDB, 
and the works of Ben Sira, For D'pns nDD Maimonides has co'D nEC. 
The low estimate at which he held Ben Sira is astonishing. It was 
a mere waste of time to read him. His aversion went much further than 
that of the Talmud, which finds parallels to many of Ben Sira's sayings 
in many a biblical verse or Rabbinic aphorism, and finally declares '^o 
p'^c^^ m nvn nn^teo " We may study and give public utterance to the 


As it is said, " I will put none of those diseases upon thee which 
I have brought upon the Egyptians ; for I am the Lord that healeth 
thee " (Exod. xv. 26). 
Abba Saul would include also : 

(«) He who utters the letters of the Tetragrammaton. 

I have thought fit to speak here concerning many principles 
belonging to fundamental articles of faith which are of very great 
importance. Know that the theologians are divided in opinion as 
to the good which man reaps from the performance of those precepts 
which God enjoined upon us by the hand of Moses our teacher; 
and that they also differ among themselves with regard to the evil 
which will overtake us if we transgress them. Their differences on 
these questions are very great and in proportion to the differences 
between their respective intellects. As a consequence, people's 
opinions have fallen into such great confusion that you can scarcely 
in any way find any one possessing clear and certain ideas on this 
subject ; neither can you alight upon any portion of it which has 
been transmitted to any person without abundant error. 

One class of thinkers holds that the hoped-for good will be the 
Garden of Eden, a place where people eat and drink without bodily 
toil or faintness. Houses of costly stones are there, couches of silk 
and rivers flowing with wine and perfumed oils, and many other 
things of this kind. But the evil, they think, will be Gehinnom, 
a place flaming with fire where bodies are burned, and where human 
beings sufli'er varied tortures which it would take too long to 
describe. This set of thinkers on this principle of faith bring their 
proofs from many statements of the Sages (peace to them) whose 
literal interpretation forsooth accords with their contention, or with 
the greater part of it. 

The second class of thinkers firmly believes and imagines that 
the hoped-for good will be the Days of the Messiah (may he soon 
appear !). They think that when that time comes all men will be 
kings for ever. Their bodily frames will be mighty and they will 
inhabit the whole earth unto eternity. According to their imagina- 
tion that Messiah will live as long as the Creator (greatly be he 
praised!), and at that epoch the earth will bring forth garments 
ready woven, and bread ready baked, and many other impossible 
things like these. But the evil will consist in the fact that mankind 
will not exist at that epoch and will be unworthy to witness it. 
They also bring proofs for their statements from many remarks of 

useful remarks found in it " (i. e. in Ben Sira). This is a further proof 
of Maimonides' dislike of poetry. 


the Sages, and from scriptural texts which in their outward in- 
terpretation agree with their claim, or a portion of it. 

The third class is of opinion that the desired good will consist 
in the resurrection of the dead. This implies that man will live 
after his death; that in the company of his family and relatives 
he will once again eat and drink, and never more die. But the evil 
will mean that he will not again come to life. These thinkers also 
point for proof to the remarks of the Sages, and to certain verses ^ 
of the Bible, whose literal sense tallies with their view. 

The fourth class is of opinion that the good which we shall 
reap from obedience to the Law will consist in the repose of the 
body and tlie attainment in this world of all worldly wishes, as, 
for example, the fertility of lands, abundant wealth, abundance of 
children, long life, bodily health and security, enjoying the sway 
of a king, and prevailing over the oppressor. The evil which will 
overtake us when we act in opposition [to the Torah] will mean 
the reversal of the afore-mentioned conditions, a state of things such 
as we now have in this the time of our exile. The holders of this 
view point for proof to all the texts of Scripture which speak of 
blessings and curses and other matters, and to the whole body 
of narratives existing in Holy Writ. 

The fifth set of thinkers is the largest. Its members combine 
all the afore-gone opinions, and declare the objects hoped for are 
the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, their entry 
into the Garden of Eden, their eating and drinking and living in 
health there so long as heaven and earth endure. 

But with regard to this strange point — I mean the world to come — 
you will find very few who will in any way take the matter to heart, 
or meditate on it, or adopt this or that principle, or ask to what 
these names ^ (the world to come) refer, whether the last-mentioned 
view constitutes the object to be aimed after, or whether one of 
the preceding opinions rightly expresses it. And you will rarely 
come across any one who will distinguish between the end desired 
and the means which lead to it. You will not by any means find 
any one to ask about this, or speak of it. What, however, all people 
ask, both the common folk and the educated classes is this: — In 
what condition will the dead rise to life, naked or clothed ? Will 
they stand up in those very garments in which they were buried, 

' PD«1E. The Arabicized plural form of the Hebrew word piDD. Mai- 
monides often uses these Arabic forms. 

* frlDDN, As Holzer points out, this form of the word DDK (a name) is 
not to be found in the Arabic dictionaries. He thinks it an incorrect 
form of the plural m^DDS (names). 


in their embroideries and brocades, and beautiful needlework, or 
in a robe that will merely cover the body ? And when the Messiah 
comes will rich and poor be alike, or will the distinctions between 
weak and strong still exist — and many similar questions from time 
to time. 

Now, reader, understand the following simile of mine^, and 
then you will make it your aim to grasp my meaning throughout. 
Figure to yourself a child young in years brought to a teacher 
to be instructed by him in the Torah. This is the greatest good 
he can derive in respect of his attainment of perfection. But the 
child, on account of the fewness of his years and the weakness of 
his intellect, does not grasp the measure of that benefit, or the 
extent to which it leads him towards the attainment of perfection. 
The teacher (who is nearer perfection than the pupil) must therefore 
necessarily stimulate him to learning by means of things in which 
he delights by reason of his youth. Thus he says to him, "Read, 
and I shall give you nuts or figs^ or a bit of sugar." The child 
yields to this. He learns diligently, not indeed for the sake of the 
knowledge itself, as he does not know the importance of it, but 
merely to obtain that particular dainty (the eating of that dainty 
being more relished by him than study, and regarded as an unques- 
tionably greater boon). And consequently he considers learning as 
a labour and a weariness to which he gives himself up in order by 
its means to gain his desired object, which consists of a nut, or 
a piece of sugar. When he grows older and his intelligence 
strengthens, he thinks lightly of the trifle in which he formerly 
found joy and begins to desire something new. He longs for this 
newly-chosen object of his, and his teacher now says to him, " Read, 
and I shall buy you pretty shoes, or a coat of this kind ! " Accordingly 
he again exerts himself to learn, not for the sake of the knowledge, 
but to acquire that coat; for the garment ranks higher in his 
estimation than the learning and constitutes the final aim of his 
studies. When, however, he reaches a higher stage of mental per- 
fection, this prize also ranks little with him, and he sets his heart 
upon something of greater moment. So that when his teacher bids 
him "learn this flB'IB 'section,' or that p"ia 'chapter,' and 
I shall give you a dinar or two," he learns with zest in order to 

' Bachya makes use of the same figure of speech in the section TStj 
■pniDnn of his maabn ninirr. 

' The Arabic has the plnral "we shall give," whereas the Hebrew 
keeps to the singular, as it refers to the teacher. A similar usage occurs 
a few lines later, where we get the Arabic nm):i " and we shall buy," 
with the Hebrew singular np«i. 


obtain that money which to him is of more value than the learning, 
seeing that it constitutes the final aim of his studies. When, further, 
he reaches the age of greater discretion, this prize also loses its 
worth for him. He recognizes its paltry nature and sets his heart 
upon something more desirable. His teacher then says to him, 
" Learn, in order that you may become a Eabbi, or a Judge ; the people 
will honour you, and rise before you ; they will be obedient to your 
authority, and your name will be great, both in life and after death, 
as in the case of so and so." The pupil throws himself into ardent 
study, striving all the time to reach this stage of eminence. His aim 
is that of obtaining the honour of men, their esteem and commendation. 
But all these methods are blameworthy. For in truth it is incumbent 
upon man, considering the weakness of the human mind, to make his 
aim in his acquisition of learning something which is extraneous 
to learning. And he should say of anything which is studied for the 
sake of gaining reward, " Of a truth this is a silly business." This is 
what the Sages meant when they used the expression DDB'? K7K' 
"not for its own sake." They meant to tell us that men obey 
the laws of the Torah, perform its precepts, and study and strive, 
not to obtain the thing itself, but for a further object. The Sages 
prohibited this to us in their remark', "Make not of the Torah a 
crown wherewith to aggrandize thyself, nor a spade wherewith to 
dig." They allude to that which I have made clear to you, viz. 
not to make the be-all and end-all of learning either the glorifica- 
tion of men or the acquisition of wealth. Also not to adopt the 
Law of God as the means of a livelihood, but to make the goal of 
one's study the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. Similarly, 
the aim of one's study of truth ought to be the knowing of truth. 
The laws of the Torah are truth, and the purport of their study 
is obedience to them. The perfect man must not say, " If I perform 
these virtues and refrain from these vices which God forbade, what 
reward shall I receive ? " For this would resemble the case of the 
lad who says, "If I read, what present will be given me?" and 
he receives the reply that he will get such and such a thing. This 
is only because when we notice the poverty of his intelligence, which 
fails to grasp this stage of things and aims at getting something 
other than what ought to be its real aim, we answer him according 
to his folly. "Answer a fool according to his folly ^." The Sages 
warned us against this also, viz. against a man making the attain- 
ment of some worldly object the end of his service to God, and his 
obedience to his precepts. And this is the meaning of the dictum 

' Mhks o/tlie Fathers, IV, 7. * Prov. xxvi. 5. 


of that distinguished and perfect man who understood the funda- 
mental truth of things — Antigonus of Socho— " Be not like servants 
who minister to their master upon the condition of receiving a 
reward ; but be like servants who minister to their master without 
the condition of receiving a revireird K" They really meant to tell 
us by this that a man should believe in truth for truth's sake^. 
And this is the sense they wished to convey by their expression 
nanND laij? " serving from motives of love," and by their comment 
on the phrase TIK» Y^n VniVD3 ' "that delighteth in his com- 
mandments." E. Eliezer said VniXD3 " in his commandments," and 
not VniSD "13B'3="in the reward for performance of his command- 
ments." How strong a proof we have here of the truth of our argument, 
and how decisive! It is a clear confirmation of the text we have 
previously quoted. And we possess a stronger proof still in their 
remark in Sifre: "WV HTlNt^ '?'<2^2 nnin Id!) ''jnn IDND NOC 

r\» *r\2n»b -iDiij iiD^n Nan hbm laB' i'apNB' u-i N-ipN{j> ^"aa'S 

nanSD si's \)mn ab ]'<WV tinXB* b "n « Peradventure thou 
mayest say, Verily I will learn the Torah in order that I may become 
rich or that I may be called * Rabbi,' or that I may receive a recom- 
pense in the future world. Therefore does Holy Writ say 'to love 
the Lord thy God.' Let everything that thou doest be done out of 
pure love for him." 

The significance of this matter is now clear, and it is evident that 
what we have here stated is really the aim of the Torah, and the 
basis of the theological principles laid down by the Sages. No one 
can be blind to it except the imbecile boor who has fallen a prey 
to the whisperings of inane thoughts and defective imaginings. It 
was in this that the pre-eminence of Abraham our father consisted. 
He was nnnso 13iy " a server from motives of pure love '." And it 
is in this direction that effort should be put forward. 

But our Sages knew how difficult a thing this was and that not 
every one could act up to it. They knew that even the man who 
reached it would not at once accord with it and think it a true 
article of Mth. For man only does those actions which will either 
bring him advantage or ward off loss. All other action he holds vain 
and worthless. Accordingly, how could it be said to one who is learned 
in the Law — " Do these things, but do them not out of fear of God's 

^ Ethics of the Fathers, I, 3. 

'■* Maimonides develops the idea in his Mishna Torah narcn maSn, X, 

I, 3, 4) 5- 
" Aioda Zara, 19 a, and Ps. cxii. 1. * Deut. xi. 13. 

' Sota, 31 a, "ui nin»D omitsa -nosri D'pSs «t rra. 


punishment, nor out of hope for his reward " ? This would be 
exceedingly hard, because it is not every one that comprehends truth, 
and becomes like Abraham our father. Therefore, in order that the 
common folk might be established in their convictions, the Sages 
permitted them to perform meritorious actions with the hope of 
reward, and to avoid the doing of evil out of fear of punishment. 
They encourage them to these conceptions and their opinions become 
firmly rooted, until eventually the intelligent among them come to 
comprehend and know what truth is and what is the most perfect 
mode of conduct. It is exactly the way in which we deal with the 
lad in his studies, as we have explained in our foregoing simile. 
Antigonus of Socho was blamed by them for the particular exposition 
he gave to the multitude and they applied to him the words \ " Oh, 
wise men, be cautious of your words," as we shall explain in our 
remarks on "The ethics of the Fathers." The people at lai-ge 
are not one jot the worse off through their performance of the pre- 
cepts of the Torah by reason of their fear of punishment and expectation 
of reward ; for they are in a state of imperfection. On the contrary, 
they are by this means drawn to cultivate the necessary habits and 
training for acting in loyalty to the Torah. They bring themselves 
over to an understanding of truth, and become nailND D'''13iy 
"servers out of pure love." And this is what the Sages meant by 
their remark ^i i6& linOC .ni^^b N^'K' l^ifiN iTlina Q^N piDV ch)vh 
niOB'7 N3 TXDW " Man should ever engage himself in the Torah, 
even though it be not for the Torah's sake. Action regardless of the 
Torah 's sake will lead on to action regardful of it." 

We must now come to the point which it is necessary for you to 
know, viz., that men are divided into three different classes in respect 
of their notions regarding the words of the Sages. The first class 
is, as far as I have seen, the largest in point of their numbers 
and of the numbers of their compositions; and it is of them that 
I have heard most. The members of this class adopt the words of the 
Sages literally, and give no kind of interpretation whatsoever. With 
them all impossibilities are necessary occurrences. This is owing to 
their being ignorant of science and far away from knowledge. They 
do not possess that perfection which would spur them on of their own 
accord, neither have they found any means for rousing their attention. 
They think that in all their emphatic and precise remarks the Sages 
only wished to convey the ideas which they themselves comprehend, 
and that they intended them to be taken in their literalness. And 
this, in spite of the fact that in their literal significance some of the 

' Ethics of the Faffiers, I, ir. ' Pesachim, 50 b. 


words of the Sages would savour of absurdity. And so much so that 
were they manifested to the ordinary folk (leave alone the educated) 
in their literalness, they would reflect upon them with amazement 
and would exclaim : " How can there exist any one who would seriously 
think in this way and regard such statements as the correct view of 
things, much less approve of them." This class of men are poor, and 
their folly desei"ves our pity. For in their own opinions they are 
honouring the Sages, whereas in reality they are all the time 
degrading them to the lowest depths— and this all unconsciously. 
As God lives, it is this class of thinkers that robs our religion of 
its beauties, darkens its brilliance, and makes the Law of God 
convey meanings quite contrary to those it was intended to convey. 
For God says in the perfect book of his revelation : " For this is your 
wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations which 
shall hear all these statutes and say. Surely this great nation is 
a wise and understanding people *." But this class strings together 
the literal interpretations of the remarks of the Sages, so that when 
the nations hear them they exclaim, "Surely this small nation is 
a foolish and untutored people." And as for the many things that 
are done by those preachers ^ who explain to the people what they do 
not themselves understand, would that their ignorance caused them to 
be silent, even as Job says, "Would that ye were silent, and this 
would be unto you for wisdom °." Or would that they were to say, 
" We do not know what the wise men intended by this assertion, nor 
how it is to be interpreted." But, of a truth, they imagine that they 
do understand, and devote themselves to inculcating among the 
people that which they themselves think, and not what the Sages 
said. And they expound sermons before the leaders of the people 
on such themes as The Talmud Treatise " Berachoth " and the 
" loth chap, of Mishna Sanhedrin," &c., in their literal senses word 
by word. 

The second class of reasoners is also numerous. They see and hear 
the words of the Sages and accept them in their literal significations, 
thinking that the Sages meant nothing but what the literal interpreta- 
tion indicates. They consequently apply themselves to showing the 
weakness of the Rabbinical statements, their objectionable character, 

' Deut. iv, 6. 

' It is not at all cei-tain to whom Maimonides is here alluding as nb» 
C'JBJinn. He is evidently referring to contempoi-ary preachers. Holzer 
suggests that it is a blow directed against the contemporary French school 
of exegetists who opposed Maimonides' rationalist method of interpreta- 
tion with great bitterness. 

' Job xiii. 5. 

D a 


and to calumniate that which is free from reproach. They make 
sport of the words of the Sages from time to time, and imagine 
themselves more intellectually gifted and possessed of more pene- 
trating minds, whereas they (peace to them!) are deceived, short- 
sighted, ignorant of all existing things, and consequently unable 
to comprehend anything. The majority of those who fall into these 
beliefs consists of those who pretend to a knowledge of medicine, and 
of those who rant about the decrees of the stars. For these are men 
who in their own estimation are sages and philosophers. But how 
far removed are they from humanity when placed side by side with 
the trae philosophers ! They are more stupid than the first class (of 
which we have spoken), and more steeped in folly! They are an 
accursed class, because they put themselves in opposition to men 
of great worth, whose learning is manifest to scholars. If only they 
trained themselves in knowledge so as to know how necessary it is to 
use the appropriate speech in theology and in like subjects which are 
common to both the uneducated and the cultured, and to understand 
also the practical portion of philosophy, it would then be clear to 
them whether the Sages were really men of wisdom or no, and the 
significance of their assertions would be comprehensible to them. 

The third class of thinkers is (as God liveth!) so very small in 
numbers that one would only call it a class in the sense that the sun 
is termed a species (although it is a single object). They are the men 
who accept as established facts the greatness of the Sages and the 
excellence of their thoughts, as found in the generality of their 
remarks, where each word points a very true theme. Although the 
number of these discourses is small and scattered about in different 
portions of their writings, they nevertheless indicate the perfection of 
their authors and the fact that they attained truth. The members of 
this class are convinced also of the impossibility of the impossible and 
the necessary existence of what must exist. For they know that they 
(peace to them !) would not talk absurdities to one another. And 
they are convinced beyond doubt that their words have both an outer 
and an inner meaning, and that in all that they said of things 
impossible their discourses were in the form of riddle and parable. 
For this was the method of the great savants, and for this reason 
did the wisest of men open his book with the words', pCO pan? 
DniT'm D>D3n nai nvl'OI " To understand parable and saying, the 
words of the wise and their riddles." Those who study philology 
know that niT! is a mode of speech whose meaning is inward not 
outward, as in the verse '^ mTl OS? W mint? "I will now put 

' Pi'ov. i, 6. ' Judges xiv. la. 


forth a riddle unto you." For the theme of the speech of men of 
learning consists entirely in matters of the highest import. But they 
are put in the form of riddle and parable. And how can we disapprove 
of their literary productions being in the maimer of proverb and simile 
of a lowly and popular kind, seeing that the wisest of men did the same 
CTlpn rrna "by holy inspiration," viz. Solomon, in the Book of 
Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and part of Ecclesiastes ? How can we 
disapprove of the method of placing interpretations on the words 
of the Sages, and drawing them out of their literalness to adjust 
them to reason and make them accord with truth and the books 
of Scripture, seeing that the Sages themselves place their interpreta- 
tions on the words of the text and by bringing them out of their 
literal meaning present them as parable ? And that this is true can 
be seen from what we find in their interpretation of the verse 
(2 Sam. xxiii. 20), " He slew two lion-like men of Moab," &c.^ All 
of which they regard as allegory. And similarly the verse (2 Sam. 
xxiii. 20), " he slew the lion in the midst of the pit," they treat as 
allegory. And likewise (2 Sam. xxiii. 15)", "Oh that one would give 
me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem ! " and all that 
follows they interpret figuratively. And so it is with the whole 
Book of Job, of which one of the Rabbins says, ' nTl ?{J'D " it is 
an allegory," but he does not explain what meaning the allegory 
is intended to convey. And so again in the case of the dry bones 
of Ezekiel, which one Rabbi declares to have been allegorically 
meant ^. And we could quote many similar instances. 

If, reader, you belong to one of the first-named classes, do not 
pay any attention to any of my remarks on this subject, because 
not a word of it will suit you. On the contrary, it will harm you 
and you will dislike it. For how can food of light weight and 
temperate character suit a person accustomed to partaking of bad 
and gross fare ? It would really injure him, and he would loathe it. 
Do you not see what was said concerning the manna by those who 
had grown accustomed to eating onions and garlic, and fish ? IJB'ail 
»i3p1^pn nrhl nvp "and our soul loatheth this light bread." If, 
however, you are of those who constitute the third class, and when 
you come across any of the Sages' remarks which reason rejects, you 

^ BerMhofh, 18 b. ^ Sciba Kama, 60 b. 

^ JBobd Bathra, 15 a. The Hebrew ansp is hardly as accurate as the 
Arabic onsn. The latter means "a certain one of them," the former 
signifies "some of them," which is not correct, because it is an individual 
that holds this view about n<n 'mo avM. The same applies to the next 
statement about the bi^pim 'na, which is the individual view of R. Jehuda. 

* SanJiedrtn, gab. ' Num. xxi. 5. 


pause and learn that it is a dark saying and an allegory. And if you 
then pass the night wrapped up in thought and dwelling in anxious 
reflection over its interpretation, mentally striving to find the truth 
and the correct point of view, as it is said, ^K'1'' 31031 J'Sn n3"t N1SD? 
'DON ''"I3T "To find out acceptable words, and the writing of 
uprightness, even words of truth," you will then consider this discourse 
of mine, and it will profit you, if God wills it. 

I shall now begin to treat of the subject which I originally intended. 
Know that just as a blind man can form no idea of colours, nor 
a deaf man comprehend sounds, nor a eunuch feel the desire for 
sexual intercourse, so the bodies cannot comprehend the delights of 
the soul, And even as fish do not know the element^ fire because 
they exist ever in its opposite, so are the delights of the world of 
spirit unknown to this world of flesh. Indeed, we have no pleasure in 
any way except what is bodily, and what the senses can comprehend 
of eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. Whatever is outside 
these is non-existent to us. We do not discern it, neither do we 
grasp it at first thought, but only after deep penetration. And truly 
this must necessarily be the case. For we live in a material world 
and the only pleasure we can comprehend must be material. But 
the delights of the spirit are everlasting and uninterrupted, and there 
is no resemblance in any possible way between spiritual and bodily 
enjoyments. We are not sanctioned either by the Torah or by the 
divine philosophers to assert that the angels, the stars, and the 
spheres enjoy no delights. In truth they have exceeding great delight 
in respect of what they comprehend of the Creator (glorified be he !). 
This to them is an everlasting felicity without a break. They have 
no bodily pleasures, neither do they comprehend them, because they 
have no senses like ours, enabling them to have our sense experiences. 
And likewise will it be with us too. When after death the worthy 
from among us will reach that exalted stage he will experience no 
bodily pleasures, neither will he have any wish for them, any more 
than would a king of sovereign power wish to divest himself of his 
imperial sway and return to his boyhood's games with a ball in the 
street, although at one time he would without doubt have set a higher 
worth upon a game with a ball than on kingly dominion, such being 
the case only when his years were few and he was totally ignorant 
of the real significance of either pm-suit, just as we to-day rank the 
delights of the body above those of the soul. 

And when you will give your consideration to the subject of these 
two pleasures, you will discover the meanness of the one and the high 
worth of the other. And this applies even to this world. For we find 

' Eocles. xii. 10. ^ cptQC»=G-reek <rToix«oj'= element. 


in the case of the majority of men that they all burden their souls and 
bodies with the greatest possible labour and fatigue in order to attain 
distinction or a great position in men's esteem. This pleasure is 
not that of eating or drinking. Similarly, many a man prefers the 
obtaining of revenge over his enemies to many of the pleasures of the 
body. And many a man, again, shuns the greatest among all physical 
delights out of fear that it should bring him shame and the reproach 
of men, or because he seeks a good reputation. If such then is our 
condition in this world of matter, how much more will it be our case 
in the world of the spirit, viz. the world to come, where our souls will 
attain to a knowledge of the Creator as do the higher bodies, or more. 
This pleasure cannot be divided into parts. It cannot be described, 
neither can anything be found to compare with it. It is as the 
prophet exclaimed, when admiring its great glories' : "How great is 
thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which 
thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the children of 
men." And in a similar sense the Sages remarked * : "In the world to 
come there will be no eating and no drinking, no washing and no 
anointing and no marriage; but only the righteous sitting with 
crowns on their heads enjoying the splendour of the Shechinah." By 
their remark, "their crowns on their heads," is meant the preservation 
of the soul in the intellectual sphere ^ and the merging of the two 
into one as has been described by the illustrious philosophers in 
ways whose exposition would take too long here. By their remark, 
"enjoying the splendour of the Shechinah," is meant that those 
souls will reap bliss in what they comprehend of the Creator, just as 
the Holy Chayoth and the other ranks of angels enjoy felicity in what 
they understand of his existence. And so the felicity and the final 
goal consist in reaching to this exalted company and attaining to 
this high pitch *, The continuation of the soul, as we have stated, is 
endless, like the continuation of the Creator (praised be he !) who 
is the cause of its continuation in that it comprehends him, as is 

* Ps. xxxi. 19. * Berachoth, 17 a. 

' Op. Moreh Nebmhim, 1, 41, where Maimonides distinguishes three kinds 
of soul: (i) "that which constitutes animal life in general; (a) that 
which constitutes human life in particular ; (3) that part of man's 
individuality which exists independently of his body — i.e. the soul" 
(Dr. Friedlander's note to his translation). This third kind of soul is 
the intellect, and it is the only one that is immortal. According to 
Maimonides it would seem that it is only the souls of men of exemplary 
intellectual and moral standing that are immortal. 

* The Hebrew literally means "to be included in this glory" (nvrr^ 
mn niasa). But this is too free a translation of the Arabic »in »2 Sisn^Mi 
in^», which literally means "attaining to (or 'arriving at') this limit." 


explained in elementary philosophy. This is the great bliss with which 
no bliss is comparable and to which no pleasure can be likened. For 
how can the enduring and infinite be likened to a thing which has 
a break and an end ? This is the meaning of the scriptural phrase • 
Die nanNm i? atS" ]])ob " in order that it may be well with thee 
and that thou mayest prolong thy days " ; for which we possess the 
traditionalinterpretation, which is": 31D I^K* ab)vh i? aDi"" JJ?tt^ 
" In order that it may be well with thee in the world which is all 
good"; TnN ibe* nb)^b Q^D'' nanNni "and that thou mayest 
prolong thy days in a world which is of unending length." 

The consummate evil (of punishment) consists in the cutting off of 
the soul, its perishing and its failure to attain durability. This is 
the meaning of n"l3 " cutting off," mentioned in the Torah. The 
meaning of Dia is the cutting off of the soul, as the Torah manifestly 
declares': NNnn B'SJn man man "That soul shall surely be cut 
off." And the Sages remarked (peace to them ! ) : n'lDH " cutting off 
in this world*," man "cutting off in the world to come." Scripture 
also contains the verse ^ D^nn llisa mn5f lins tJ'SJ nn\ni "And 
the ^soul of my lord shall be bound in the bond of life." All those who 
devote themselves to bodily pleasures, rejecting truth and choosing 
falsehood, are cut off from participation in that exalted state of 
things and remain as detached matter merely. And in this connexion 
the prophet in his remark ^ 1^5 nsmb nB>JJi ']'<r!?11 "bn nnsi id pS? 
"The eye hath not seen, God, beside thee, what he hath 
prepared for him that waiteth for him," has made it clear 
that the world to come cannot be comprehended by the bodily 
senses. The Sages, in interpretation of this phrase, said ' ; 

nh py Nan D^iyn bx n^wn niD''!' aha ixaonj t6 ob aiN^ajn bs 

ITOM "ba nnNI "AU prophets prophesy only concerning the days 
of the Messiah, but the world to come no eye hath seen save God." 

As regards the promises and threats alluded to in the Torah, their 
interpretation is that which I shall now tell you. It sajrs to you, " If 
you obey these precepts, I will help you to a further obedience of 
them and perfection in the performance of them. And I shall 
remove all hindrances from you." For it is impossible for man to 
do the service of God when sick or hungry or thu-sty or in trouble, 
and this is why the Torah promises the removal of all these dis- 
abilities and gives man also the promise of health and quietude until 

^ Deut. xxii. 7. 2 xiduschin, 39 b, and Chvlin, 142 a. 

" Num. XV. 31. * Sanhedrin, 64b and gob. 

° I Sain. XXV. 29. Maimonides quotes the same verse in Moreh Nebuchim, 
I, 41, where he speaks of the intellectual soul which lives on after death 
of the body. « Isa. Ixiv. 3. '' Berachoth, 34 b. 


such a time as he shall have attained perfection of knowledge and be 
worthy of the life of the world to come. The final aim of the Torah 
is not that the earth should be fertile, that people should live long, 
and that bodies should be healthy. It simply helps us to the 
performance of its precepts by holding out the promise of all these 
things. Similarly, if men transgress, their punishment will be that 
all these hindrances will come into being, rendering them powerless 
to do righteousness, as we read : "n nx m^y N? '^55'^? nnH ^, "Because 
thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness . . . Therefore 
shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against 
thee. . . ." If you give this matter more than ordinary consideration, 
you will find it to be equivalent to being told, " If you carry out 
a portion of these laws vrith love and diligence, we shall help you 
to a performance of all of them by removing from you all difficulties 
and obstacles ; but if you abandon any of them out of disdain we 
shall bring hindrances into your path that will prevent you from 
doing any of them, so that you will gain neither perfection nor 
eternity." This is what is meant by the assertion of the Babbins ^ : 
may may -i3tJ>1 niVD ni^ -lat? " The recompense of a precept is 
a precept, and the recompense of transgression, transgression." 

As for the Garden of Eden', it is a fertile spot on the earth's 
sphere rich in streams and fruits. God will of a certainty disclose 
it to man one day, and will show him the path leading to it. Man 
will reap enjoyment within it, and there may possibly be found 
therein plants of a very extraordinary sort, great in usefulness and 
rich in pleasure-giving properties, in addition to those which are 
renowned with us. All this is not impossible nor far-fetched. On 
the contrary, it is quite near possibility, and would be so even if 
the Torah failed to allude to it. How much more is it the case 
seeing that it has a clear and conspicuous place in the Torah ! 

Gehinnom is an expression for the sufi'ering that will befall the 
wicked. The nature of this suffering is not expounded in the Talmud. 
One authority there states that the sun will draw near them [the 
wicked] and burn them*. He gets his proof from the verse ''3 

' Deut. xxviii. 47. " Ethics (jfthe Fathers, IV, a. 

' It is noteworthy that Maimonides places Jir ]i and Dun'i on this side 
of the grave, and gives them no connexion whatsoever with the life 
hereaftei-. He holds the view consistently with the Talmudic dictum, 
" In the world to come there will be no eating and no drinking," &c. 
But it seems in direct opposition to the average Jewish view expressed in 
our liturgy in such terms as inmsta nan p» pi and to prevailing Jewish 
conceptions about nrn'j, which is always included in the paraphernalia of 
the hereafter, and not of the mundane existence. 

* Aboda Zara, 3 b, and Nedarim, 8 b. 


' "llJna "15)13 N3 DVrt njn « For behold tlie day cometh, burning as 
an oven." Another asserts that a strange heat will arise in their 
bodies, and consume them. He derives proof for this from the 
phrase * OaMND {^N Osnil " Your breath as fire shall devour you." 

The Eesuri'ection of the Dead is one of the cardinal doctrines 
of the Law of Moses. He who does not believe in this has no 
religion, and no bond with the Jewish faith. But it is the reward 
of the righteous only, as is shown by the statement in Bereshith 
Rabba, 13^ WP'^Titb QTlon JT-Tini CV^^b) D'-pnv^ D''0B'3 mUJ 
" The great benefits of the rain are for both the righteous and the 
wicked, but the resurrection of the dead applies to the righteous 
only." And forsooth how shall the evil-doers live after death, seeing 
that they were dead even in life, as the Sages said, 1?''SK D^ysyi 

»a*in a''''np ann''D3 li^'-as h'^p^Ti dtid d^np Dn''''n3 "The wicked 

are called dead even during their lives, but the good are called living 
even after their death." And know that man is bound to die and 
become dissolved into his component parts. 

The days of the Messiah will be the time when the kingdom will 
return to Israel who will return to the Holy Land*. The king 
who will then reign will have Zion as the capital of his realm. His 
name will be great and fill the earth to its uttermost bounds'. 
It will be a greater name than that of king Solomon and mightier. 
The nations will make peace with him, and lands will obey him by 
reason of his gi-eat rectitude and the wonders that will come to light 
by his means. Any one that rises up against him God will destroy 
and make him fall into his hand. All verses of scripture testify to 
his prosperity and our prosperity in him. So far as existing things 
are concerned there will be no difference whatever between now 
and then, except that Israel will possess the kingdom. And this 
is the sense of the Rabbins' statement, n^tWn T\'\Ki'h Htn Q^iyn |'3 f^N 
*13i>3 nvsha "nsyt? i6i< "There is no difference between this world 
and the Days of the Messiah except the subjugation of the kingdoms 
alone." In his days there will be both the strong and the weak in 
their relations to others. But verily in those days the gaining of 
their livelihood will be so very easy to men that they will do the 
lightest possible labour and reap great benefit. It is this that is 

' Malachi iil. 19. ' Isa. xxxiii. 12. ' Berachoth, 18 a. 

* DMnAs is used here to denote Palestine. Of. Prof. Bacher's note, 
J.Q.R., XVIII, 564. 

" The Arabic is fwfm p«BN sSo'i which is freely translated by the Hebrew 
D'ljrt mSo rriT nan. The translator may possibly have been anxious to 
imitate the verse (Gen. xlviii. 19) D'un «k) mm imi. 

' Berachoth, 34 b, Sabbath, 63 a. 


meant by the remark of the Rabbins, niNpDib Ni^ini' bn"^^ pN iTJ^ny 
'nSo vai "The land of Israel will one day produce cakes ready 
baked, and garments of fine silk." For when one finds a thing easily 
and without labour, people are in the habit of saying, " So and So 
found bread ready baked, and a meal ready cooked." And you have 
a proof of this in the scriptural statement, ^ D3''D1"l3"l D3'''iaN 13J ''J31 
"And the sons of the stranger shall be your husbandmen, and the 
tillers of your vineyards." This is an indication that seed-time 
and harvest will exist there [in the land of Israel at the time of 
the Messiah]. And it was for this reason that the particular Rabbi 
who made the afore-mentioned assertion blamed his pupil for not 
understanding the drift of his remarks, and thinking them to be 
intended literally. And consequently the reply he gave him was 
commensurate with the latter's power of comprehension ; but it was 
not the real answer. And the proof that he did not intend it for 
the truth is seen in the fact that he corroborates his attitude by 
quoting the verse 'in?1N3 ?''D3 fyn ?N "Answer not a fool according 
to his folly." The great benefits that will accrue to us at that 
epoch will consist in our enjoying rest from the work of subjugating 
the kingdoms of wickedness, a work which prevents us from the full 
performance of righteous action. Knowledge will increase, as it is said, 
*"n nx njn psn HN^O *3 "For the earth shall be full of the know- 
ledge of God." Discords ° and wars will cease, as it is said, INSJ'^ N? 
*3"in *U r-a ^U "Nation shall no more lift up sword against nation." 
Great perfection will appertain to him that lives in those days, and he 
will be elevated^ through it to the tOH oSvn '•'•n "the life of the 
world to come." But the Messiah will die, and his son and son's son 
will reign in his stead. God has clearly declared his death in the words, 
8 DBB^ J»nNa ty^ 'ly pi'' ab) nny nb "He shall not fail nor be 
discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth." His kingdom 
will endure a very long time and the lives of men will be long 

' Sabbath, 30 b. ' Isa, Ixi. 5. 

' Prov. xxvi. 4. * Isa. xi. 9. 

' The Hebrew renders the Arabic ann'jxi pD*;** by the one word ninnSorr 
"wars," which seems barely suiHcient. The Arabic ftonD is most probably 
here in the sense of civil war. This goes well with niorto which is 
mostly used for political war. The cessation of both will be a prominent 
feature in the Messianic time. 

" Micah iv. 3. 

' The Arabic 'priT—to be elevated [to holy orders]. This is barely done 
justice to by the Hebrew nawi. Besides, the Arabic is third person 
singular, whereas the Hebrew is first person plural. 

° Isa. xlii. 4. 


also, because longevity is a consequence of the removal of sorrows 
and cares. Let not the fact of the duration of his kingdom for 
thousands of years seem strange to you, for the Sages have said 
that when a number of good things come together it is not an 
easy thing for them to separate again. The days of the Messiah 
are not ai-dently longed for on account of the plentiful vegetation, 
and the riches which they will bring in their train, nor in order 
that we may ride on horses, nor that we may drink to the ac- 
companiment of various kinds of musical instruments, as is thought 
by those people who are confused in their ideas on such things. 
No ! the prophets and saints wished and ardently desired [the days 
of the Messiah] because it implies the coming together of the 
virtuous, with choice deeds of goodness and knowledge, and the 
justice of the King*, the greatness of his wisdom and his nearness 
to his Creator, as it is said : " The Lord said unto me, thou art my 
son ; this day have I begotten thee I" And because it implies 
obedience to all the Laws of Moses, without ennui or disquietude' 
or constraint, as it is promised* in the words, DN B'^N 11J> HIO?'' N?1 

Tii'T'Dni "Dab ''min Tinji .... 'tiin lyr- ob '•a inyi 

D3"1B'2D }3Kn 3P^ "And they shall teach no more every man his 
neighbour and every man his brother saying. Know the Lord; 
for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest 
of them." "And I will take away the stony heart from your flesh." 
And there are many more similar verses on like themes. 

It is under conditions like these that one will obtain a firm hold 
upon the world to come. The final goal is the attaining to the 
world to come, and it is to it that the effort must be directed. And 
it is in this sense that the particular sage, gifted with truth looked 
towards the final goal and omitting what was extraneous to it, 

' The Hebrew here has nc am "the greatness of his rectitude," which 
is not found in the Arabic version. 

" Ps. ii. 7. It is interesting to note the smoothness with which 
Maimonides glides over this passage which is the piece cle risistanee of 
Christological interpreters. He takes " sonship '' in the sense of kinship, 
nearness, i.e. in the moral and spiritual senses. The Messiah is the 
" son " of God in so far as he is, humanly speaking, as near God as 
possible in the possession of the highest of virtues. 

' The Arabic pSp = disquietude, agitation. I cannot find in it a corre- 
spondence of meaning with the Hebrew n^sy which = sloth, laziness. 

* The Hebrew has the ordinary expression -yoMVi 10D "as it is said." 

* Jer. xxxi. 34. 

* Jer. xxxi. 33. This is a portion of the verse, but incorrectly quoted. 
It is canp 'mm n« Tin. 

' Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 


declared N3n tb)])'? p^JH hrh V^ ^NIB'' bo "All Israel have a portion 
in the world to come." Although the "world to come" constitutes 
the final object of desire, it is not meet that he who wishes to be 
nariND ^31J> should work to attain " the world to come," as we have 
explained in the foregoing remarks. Rather must he serve God in 
the way that I shall prescribe. This is as follows : when he firmly 
believes that the Torah contains knowledge which reached the 
prophets from before God, who through it taught them that virtuous 
deeds are of such and such a kind and ignoble deeds of such and 
such a kind, it is obligatory for him, in so far as he is a man of 
well balanced temperament, to bring forth meritorious deeds and 
shun vice. When he acts like this, the significance of man has in 
him reached the point of perfection and he is divided off from 
the brate. And when a man arrives at the point of being perfect 
he belongs to that order' of man whom no obstacle hinders from 
making the intellectual element in his soul live on after death. 
This is "the world to come" as we have made clear, and herein 
lies the significance of the Psalmist's remark, "nsa D1D3 VnO 7X 
*D)b2h V1JJ ID11 anoa pan px "Be ye not as the horse or as the mule 
which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held with bit 
and bridle . . ." This means that what restrains beasts from doing 
harm is something external, as a bridle or a bit. But not so with 
man. His restraining agency lies in his very self, I mean in his 
human framework. When the latter becomes perfected it is exactly 
that which keeps him away from those things which perfection 
withholds from him and which are termed vices ; and it is that which 
spurs him on to what will bring about perfection in him, viz. virtue. 

These are the ideas which I have acquired from the generality 
of the Sages' remarks upon this exalted and most prominent theme. 
I hope to compose a work in which I shall collect all the maxims 
that are found in the Talmud and other works. I shall throw light 
upon them and give them an interpretation suiting the truth. 
And I shall bring proof for all of it from the Sages' own words also. 
I shall make clear which of their statements have to be taken 
literally and which are figures of speech ; and also which of them 
were only incidents of sleep but spoken of in express terms as if 
they happened during the waking state. In that work I shall explain 
to you many principles of faith, and in these explanations I will 
make clear all the things of which I have given you a few rudi- 

' The meaning varies according as you read ^isc or 'jisE. Holzer in the 
Arabic text before me adopts the latter reading, but the Hebrew version 
seems to be a translation of the former. 

' Ps. xxxii. 9. 


mentary facts in this treatise of mine. You can compare them with 
others. Let no one blame me for the freedom with which I have 
used certain expressions and assertions in this my treatise, and 
which provokes the criticism of the learned. For I have enlarged 
freely upon this section in order to give understanding to him who 
has previously had no training in this exalted subject which is not 
comprehended by every man. 

2%e expression DTlp''BN. — This is an Aramaic word. It signifies 
disdain of and contempt for the Torah or the traditional^ explana- 
tion of the Torah. For this reason they give this name to those 
who do not believe in the fundamental principles of the Torah, 
or to those who make light of the Sages or any disciple of the Sages, 
or harm them ^ 

The expression O'lJIXTin b''"iQD "Heretical Books." They called 
these ^ Di3''0 nS3D "Books of the Minim." The books of Ben Sira 
belong to this class. He was a man who composed books of idle talk on 
the subjects of the art of physiognomy. They contain no knowledge 
and serve no useful purpose, but are a mere wasting of time in vain 
amusement. And of such a kind are e. g. those books existing among 
the Arabs dealing with chronologies, legends of kings, the genea- 
logies of the Arabs, the books of songs", and similar books, which 

1 "The traditional explanation of the Torah." This seems to be the 
meaning of fwnic'jN fiten — from the verb ban —to carry. nSan = a carrying 
from one place to another. Such was the case with the oral law which 
was handed down to successive generations in all climes. The Hebrew 
renders the words fijntirtN fttnn by rcfcnb "its learners, students" — 
possibly because it is they who carry about and disseminate its teachings. 

'' niMnDM. This seems to be the X. form of n«««to injure, damage. The 
Hebrew has lan = his master. This is obviously another reading. Or it 
may be that the word maon "he who despises" (which Holzer re- 
pudiates) should stand, and then the Arabic word would be equivalent to 
in nuon "he who injures him," viz. his master. 

' SanheArin, 99 b. As to the exact significance of the Minim see Travers 
Herford, Christianity in the Talmud. 

* 'OhjnVm aro "Books of songs." It is surprising that Maimonides dis- 
misses these with contempt although they occupy a great and distinguished 
place on the Parnassus of Arabic literature. The Mu'allaq^t, the Mufad- 
daliyyat, the Jamharat Ash'ar al-'Arab, the Hamasa of Abu Tammam 
are all great collections of Bedouin poems of the greatest importance 
in Arabic literature, both from a poetical and historical point of view. 
Then there is the great 'JhjhSm axro (Book of Songs), published at the 
Buiaq printing-press in twenty volumes, to which Brunnow has added 
a twenty-first from MSS. discovered in European libraries. In his 
History of Arabic Literature Prof. Clement Huart says "This huge literary 


contain no knowledge and are of no practical use, but mere waste 
of time. 

The expression DSDn bv KTlviTl "He who whispers a charm over 
a wound" has no portion in the world to come. But this is only 
the case if there is any spitting*, because this would be indecent 
before God. 

The expression VJllTllNl QKTI Hf^ njinni "He who pronounces the 
letters of the Tetragrammaton." This means that he utters the 
letters n 1 n '' , which constitute the K'TlSlon DB> ^ lit. the proper 
name, i.e. the name exclusively applied to one Being. It is 
used repeatedly in the Mishnah and Gtemara Yoma. See Com- 
mentary of Shemtob on chapter 62 of Moreh Nebuchim. They also 
mentioned other things besides these, the doer of which will have 
no portion in the world to come. Thus they said, " He that publicly 
puts the face of his neighbour to the blush shall have no portion 
in the world to come'." "He that calls his neighbour by his 
nicknames*." "He that takes honour to himself in the disgrace 
of his neighbour °." Although these may seem small offences to 
the ordinary thinker, actions of this kind will only emanate from 
a soul defective, without perfection, and not fitted for the life of 
the world to come. 

What I have to mention now (and this is the most correct place 
for alluding to it) is that the roots of our Law and its fundamental 
principles are thirteen. 

The first Principle of Faith. 

The existence of the Creator (praised be he !), i. e. that there is 
an existent Being invested with the highest perfection of existence. 

compilation is our most valuable source as to everything regarding the 
circumstances amidst which the poets of the first centuries of Arab 
literature lived their lives and composed their works." That any one 
should say of all this that it is a mere "waste of time" is i-eally extra- 
ordinary. Maimonides evidently loathed poetry. 

^ np'pnn. The Arabic verb 'pT=to use magic or incantation, and has 
therefore a striking resemblance in the lettering to this Hebrew word 
and it fits in well with the theme. But there is no such grammatical 
form of the Arabic word and the resemblance is merely accidental. 

* For the full discussion of the tniEon ntj, see Moreh Nebuchim, chap. 61- 
64. Dr. Priedlander has an interesting note there explaining the literal 
meaning of the phrase CTison cffi. 

^ Baba Mesia, 58 b. 

* BaX)a Metda, 58 b. The wording, however, is not as here, but rrjson 
nan"; n did. 

^ Baba Mezia, 58 b. 


He is the cause of the existence of all existent things. In him 
they exist and from him emanates their continued existence. 
If we could suppose ^ the removal of his existence then the existence 
of all things would entirely cease and there would not be left 
any independent existence whatsoever ^ But if on the other hand 
we could suppose the removal of all existent things but he, his 
existence (blessed be he !) would not cease to be, neither would it 
suffer any diminution. For he (exalted be he !) is self-sufficient, and 
his existence needs the aid of no existence outside his. Whatsoever 
is outside him, the intelligences (i. e. the angels) and the bodies 
of the spheres, and things below these ', all of them need him for 
their existence. This is the first cardinal doctrine of faith, which 
is indicated by the commandment, "I am tie Lord thy God" 

The second Principle of Faith. 

The Unity of God. This implies that this cause of all is one; 
not one of a genus nor of a species, and not as one human being 
who is a compound divisible into many unities; not a unity like 
the ordinary material body which is one in number but takes on 
endless divisions and parts. But he, the exalted one, is a unity in 
the sense that there is no unity like his in any way. This is the 
second cardinal doctrine of faith which is indicated by the assertion, 
"Hear, Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one" ijNIK" J«:tJ> 

The third Principle of Faith. 

The removal of materiality from God. This signifies that this 
unity is not a body nor the power of a body, nor can the accidents 
of bodies overtake him, as e.g. motion and rest, whether in the 
essential or accidental sense. It was for this reason that the Sages 
(peace to them!) denied to him both cohesion and separation of 

^ To accord with the Arabic «3iip we should expect nbn to nte:, and not 
the third pers. sing, ri-fsn. 

The Arabic m«n Spncn " that which is independent, absolute, in its 
existence," is rather loosely and inaccurately rendered by D"pn'«) «so3 

' The Hebrew has D3W3 vrw ttoi "and what is inside them," which is 
not represented in the Arabic, unless the translator understood jn 
( J.j) to contain this meaning among the many others which it possesses 
in Arabic. I caimot, however, find this meaning indicated in the 

♦ Exod. XX. a, ^ Deut. vi. 4. 


parts, when they remarked ^ *1BP i6) f\y(!3 id') m^Oy N^l n3''{i>* vh, 
i. e. "no sitting and no standing, no division" (*l"Tiy), and no co- 
hesion 3" Oiay) [according to the verse DTlWa ^11133 ISyi, i.e. they 
vdll push them with the shoulder in order to join themselves to 
them]. The prophet again said^, "And unto whom will ye liken 
God," &c., "and^ unto whom will ye liken me that I may be like, 
saith the Holy One." If God were a body he would be like a body. 
Wherever in the scriptures God is spoken of with the attributes 
of material bodies, like motion, standing, sitting, speaking, and such 
like, all these are figures of speech, as the Sages said, min m3T 
°D1N ''J3 llt^b "The Torah speaks in the language of men." 
People'' have said a great deal on this point. This third funda- 
mental article of faith is indicated by the scriptural expression, 
^niion 73 DIT'NT N? ''3 "for ye have seen no likeness," i.e. you 
have not comprehended him as one who possesses a likeness, for, 
as we have remarked, he is not a body nor a bodily power. 

The fourth Principle of Faith. 

The priority of God. This means that the unity whom we have 
described is first in the absolute sense. No existent thing outside 
him is primary in relation to him. The proofs of this in the Scriptures 
are numerous. This fourth principle is indicated by the phrase 
•Onp "ba nJlVD "The eternal God is a refuge." 

The fifth Principle of Faith. 

That it is he (be he exalted !) who must be worshipped, aggrandized, 
and made known by his greatness and the obedience shown to him. 
This must not be done to any existing beings lower than he— not 
to the angels nor the spheres nor the elements, or the things which 
are compounded from them. For these are all fashioned in ac- 
cordance with the works they are intended to perform. They have 

' S:agiga, 15 a. 

' f)ii3?. The Arabic P)"i5 means "to divide." In Hebrew we get this 
meaning in inoisi (Exod. xiii. 13) "and thou shall break its neck," i.e. 
separate, divide the head from the trunk. In Hosea x. 2 we get the 
phrase ommiD ^iS' «in " he shall break down their altars," i.e. take them 
to pieces, separate stone from stone. 

' This translation is in accord with the Targum of Jonathan which 
renders the verse Isa. xi. 14 in rpi p"Qnn'i. 

* Isa. xl. i8. ' Isa. xl. 25. * Berachoth, 31 b. 

' For the Arabic DW^s "people" the Hebrew has D'oann "the sages." 
The reason for this change is not clear. 

' Deut. iv. 15. ' Deut. xxxiii. 27. 



no judgement or free-will, but only a love for Mm (be be exalted !). 
Let us adopt no mediators to enable ourselves to draw near unto 
God, but let the thoughts be directed to him, and turned away from 
whatsoever is below him. This fifth principle is a prohibition of 
idolatry. The greater part of the Torah is taken up with the 
prohibition of idol-woi-ship. 

The sixth Principle of Faith. 

Prophecy. This implies that it should be known that among this 
human species there exist persons of very intellectual natures and 
possessing much perfection. Their souls are pre-disposed for receiving 
the form of the intellect. Then this human intellect joins itself 
with the active intellect, and an exalted emanation* is shed upon 
them. These are the prophets. This is prophecy, and this is its 
meaning. The complete elucidation of this principle of faith would 
be very long, and it is not our purpose to bring proofs for every 
principle or to elucidate the means ol comprehending them, for 
this affair includes the totality of the sciences. We shall give them 
a passing mention only. The verses of the Torah which testify 
concerning the prophecy of prophets are many. 

The seventh Principle of Faith. 

The prophecy of Moses our Teacher. This implies that we must 
believe that he was the father of all the prophets before him and 
that those who came after him were all beneath him in rank. He 
(Moses) was chosen by God from the whole human kind. He com- 
prehended more of God than any man in the past or future ever 
comprehended or will comprehend. And we must believe that he 
reached a state of exaltedness beyond the sphere of humanity, so 
that he attained to the angelic rank and became included in the 

' The Arabic y«D literally signifies "to flow" (of water, blood, &c.), 
and is usually represented in Hebrew by SD© which has an exactly similar 
significance. This whole subject is thoroughly discussed in the Moreh, 
II, 12. Everything that happens in the world is influenced by the ^ of 
the Divine Creator. It is this that is shed upon the prophets, enabling 
them to prophesy, rro ta vto s'Dwsn Ninwi Hniar? sdwd leinra D^isnia low 
DWMn to WDsn yDiBrr «irro idn> pi 13 icinn'TO " It is said that the universe 
renews itself by the emanation of the Creator, and that it is he who is the 
cause of the emanation of everything that renews itself in it. Similarly 
it is said that he causes his wisdom to emanate to the prophets.'* 
Maimonides instances the usage of this idea in the prophetical books of 
the Bible by quoting Jeremiah xvii, 13 B'Tt D'Q Tipo laiy '>nw " They have 
forsaken me, the fountain of living waters." 


order of the angels. There was no veil which he did not pierce. No 
material hindrance stood in his way, and no defect whether small 
■or great mingled itself with him. The imaginative and sensual 
powers of his perceptive faculty were stripped from him. His 
desiderative power was stilled and he remained pure intellect only. 
It is in this significance that it is remarked of him that he discoursed 
with God without any angelic intermediary. 

We had it in our mind to explain this strange suhject here and 
to unlock the secrets firmly enclosed in scriptural verses ; to expound 
the meaning of HS 7t? ns " mouth to mouth " ; and the whole of this 
verse and other things helonging to the same theme. But I see that 
this theme is very subtle ; it would need abundant development and 
introductions and illustrations. The existence of angels would first 
have to be made clear and the distinction between their ranks and 
that of the Creator. The soul would have to be explained and all its 
powers. The circle would then grow wider until we should have to say 
a word about the forms which the prophets attribute to the Creator 
and the angels. The nttip "tiliV^ and its meaning would consequently 
have to enter into our survey. And even if this one subject were 
shortened into the narrowest compass it could not receive suflBcient 
justice, even in a hundred pages. For this reason I shall leave it to its 
place, either in the book of the interpretation of the ' nitfTi 
"discourses," which I have promised, or in the book on prophecy 
which I have begun, or in the book which I shall compose for 
•explaining these fundamental articles of faith. 

I shall now come back to the purpose of this seventh principle 
and say that the prophecy of Moses diifers from that of all other 
prophets in four respects: — 

(i) Whosoever the prophet, God spake not with him but by 
an intermediary. But Moses had no intermediary, as it is said, 
*13 ^aiN na b» na "mouth to mouth did I speak with him." 

(2) Every other prophet received his inspiration only when in 
a state of sleep, as it is asserted in various parts of scripture, 
^nb'bn Dliria "in a dream of the night." *rh^b }nn OI^Tia "in a 
dream of a vision of a night," and many other phrases with similar 
significance; or in the day when deep sleep has fallen upon the 
prophet and his condition is that in which there is a removal of 
his sense-perceptions, and his mind is a blank like a sleep. This 
state is styled HfriD and nN"IID, and is alluded to in the expression 

' This promised work was left undone by Maimonides. His son Abraham 
wittily alluded to the fact in the words v^N nrao rrajo Nn«i "And Moses was 
afraid to draw near to it " (a slight alteration of Exod. xxxiv. 30). 

' Num. xii. 8. * Gen. xx. 3. * Job xxxiii. 15. 


DTirS niN^D3 = " in visions of Grod." But to Moses the word came 
in the day-time when " he was standing between the two cherubim," 
as God had promised Mm in the words » DB* '^nn Tnill W i? '•niyiil 
" And there I will meet with thee and I will commune with thee." 
And God further said, Dl^ni mnx vbn HNIDa "n D3N*33 HNT" DN 
^ n ■^yiti nSJ iJN ns . . . . nw nay p t6 la tllN " if there be a 
prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in 
a vision and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is 
not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him*^I will speak 
mouth to mouth . . . ." 

(3) When the inspiration comes to the prophet, although it is 
in a vision and by means of an angel, his strength becomes enfeebled, 
his physique becomes deranged. And very great terror falls upon 
him so that he is almost broken through it, as is illustrated in the 
case of Daniel. When Gabriel speaks to him in a vision, Daniel 

says: 'na ^JTisj? tib) r{<WKh "by naru '•iini m n '■\mi tab) "And 

there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned 
in me into corruption and I retained no strength." And he further 
says: ^^2{-1^5 1JBI iJS bv bT13 "Tl"'''.! ''ONI "Then was I in a deep 
sleep on my face, and my face towards the ground." And further: 
' vJJ ''T'V "laani nsioa " By the vision my sorrows are turned upon me." 
But not so with Moses. The word came unto him and no con- 
fusion in any way overtook him, as we are told in the verse ^311 
*inj;-l i>N K'''N nan* IB'Na D''3B ^^5 0133 HB^D ba "n "And the Lord 
spake unto Moses face unto face as a man speaketh unto his neigh- 
bour." This means that just as no man feels disquieted when his 
neighbour talks with him, so he (peace to him !) had no fright 
at the discourse of God, although it was face to face ; this being 
the case by reason of the strong bond uniting him with the intellect, 
as we have described. 

(4) To all the prophets the inspiration came not at their own 
choice but by the will of God. The prophet at times waits a 
number of yeara without an inspiration reaching him. And it is 
sometimes asked of the prophet that he should communicate a 
message [he has received], but the prophet waits some days or 
months before doing so or does not make it known at all. We 

' Exod. XXV. 22. " Num. xii. 6-8. ' Dan. x. 8. 

* Dan. X. 9. ' Dan. x, 16. 

' Exod. xxxiiL ir. For the full discussion of all the meanings of D>3r, 
see Moreh, I, 37. He there explains D>aEQ d»:d as nTO20« 'ntao Vipn mvm 
■jsSn "the perception of the Divine voice without the intervention of an 


have seen cases where the prophet prepares himself^ by enlivening 
his soul and purifying his spirit \ as did Elisha in the incident when 
he declared ' jMD v "IDp nnjll " But now bring me a minstrel ! " 
and then the inspiration came to him. He does not necessarily 
receive the inspiration at the time that he is ready for it. But 
Moses our teacher was able to say at whatsoever time he wished, 
' ixb "n mv no njiOtyNl noy " stand, and I shall hear what God 
shall command concerning you." It is again said, priN 1?N "13"! 
^{J'tpn !jN njj ba NU'' i^NI n^nx "Speak unto Aaron thy brother 
that he come not at all times into the sanctuary ; " with reference 
to which verse the Talmud remarks "that only Aaron is N3'' ?3a, 
but Moses is not N13* 733. The prohibition ("That he come not at 
all times ") applies only to Aaron. But Moses may enter the sanctuary 
at all times. 

The eighth Principle of Faith. 

That the Torah has been revealed from heaven. This implies 
our belief that the whole of this Torah found in our hands this day 
is the Torah that was handed down by Moses and that it is all of 
divine origin. By this I mean that the whole of the Torah came 
unto him from before God in a manner which is metaphorically 
called "speaking"; but the real nature of that communication is 
unknown to everybody except to Moses (peace to him !) to whom it 
came. In handing down the Torah, Moses was like a scribe writing 
from dictation the whole of it, its chronicles, its narratives, and its pre- 
cepts. It is in this sense that he is termed ppiriD = " lawgiver." And 
there is no difference between verses like OIBI D''1XD1 B'la DPI ''J31 
"IWSI "And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim, Phut and 
Canaan," or 'TntDD n3 i5N3t3n» iriB'N tm "And his wife's name 
was Mehatabel, the daughter of Matred," or ^\trh''h mT-n J>3Dni "And 
Timna was concubine," and verses like °T"1''^ "'"' ^^^i* "I ^t'^ the 

' The Arabic word itdnd is only found in the sense of " Creator," which 
cannot possibly fit in here. Holzer suggests that it may be meant by 
Maimonides for niTDD, which means "religious sentiment," "natural 
disposition." As an instance of the necessity for previous self-preparation 
on the part of a prophet one would have thought that Maimonides would 
have mentioned the case of the severe ordeal of Isaiah (chap, vi) which 
is far more striking than the instance he quotes in the life of Elisha. 

" 2 Kings iii. 15. 

^ The Arabic nDD3 TBDa' does not seem to be rendered in the Hebrew 

* Num. ix. 8. ' Lev. xvi. 2. ^ Gen. x. 6. 

' Gen. xxxvi. 39. " Gen. xxxvi. 12. " Exod. xx. 2. 


Lord thy God," and * buit^ JttDty " Hear, Israel." They are all 
equally of divine origin and all belong to the mino nonsn "n miD 
natt ng'npl "The Law of G-od which is perfect, pure, holy, and 
true." In the opinion of the Rabbins, Manasseh was the most 
renegade and the greatest of all infidels because he thought that 
in the Torah there were a kernel and a husk, and that these 
histories and anecdotes have no value and emanate from Moses. 
This is the significance of the expression Q^DE'n }D HTin ps 
" The Torah does not come from heaven," which, say the Rabbins *, 
is the remark of one who believes that all the Torah is of divine 
origin save a certain verse which (says he) was not spoken by 
God but by Moses himself. And of such a one the verse says 
'nn "n lan >3 "For he hath despised the word of the Lord." 
May God be exalted far above and beyond the speech of the 
infidels ! For truly in every letter of the Torah there reside wise 
maxims and admirable truths for him to whom God has given 
understanding. You cannot grasp the uttermost bounds of its 
wisdom. "It is larger in measure than the earth, and wider than 
the sea*." Man has but to follow in the footsteps of the anointed 
one of the God of Jacob, who prayed ^imino niN^SJ nO^NI *3»tf b 
" Open my eyes and I shall behold wonderful things from thy Law." 
The interpretation of traditional law is in like manner of divine 
origin. And that which we know to-day of the nature of Succah, 
Lulab, Shofar, Fringes, and Phylacteries (n"'5i''V, ns1K>, 3^5', naiD, 
p7''Sn) is essentially the same as that which God commanded Moses, 
and which the latter told us. In the success of his mission Moses 
realized the mission of a * }D«3 (a faithful servant of God). The 
text in which the eighth principle of faith is indicated is: DND 

^♦a^D t6 *3 rht^n a^mon b tin n^mb ■<irhc> "n "3 pjnn "Hereby 

ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; 
for I have not done them of mine own mind." 

T%e ninth Principle of Faith. 

The abrogation of the Torah. This implies that this Law of Moses 
will not be abrogated and that no other law will come from before 
God. Nothing is to be added to it nor taken away from it, neither 
in the written nor oral law, as it is said * 1JDD yun W1 V?y ^Din K? 
" Thou shalt not add to it nor diminish from it." In the beginning 

' Deut. vi. 4. " Sanhedrin, 99 a. ' Num. xv. 31. 

* Job xi. 9. " Ps. cxix. i8. ' Num. xxi. 7. 

' Num. xvi. a8. ' Deut. xiii. i. 


of this treatise we have already explained that which requires 
explanation in this principle of faith. 

The tenth Principle of Faith. 

That he, the exalted one, knows the works of men and is not 
unmindful of them. Not as they thought who said, ^ }*'1Nn DN "t\ 3tJ) 
"The Lord hath forsaken the earth," but as he declared who ex- 
claimed ^ DIN '•J3 '•3-11 i>3 b nimpD T-i^y nK>« n'h'hvn 3ii n«?n i>nj 
"Great in counsel, and mighty in work; for thine eyes are open 
upon all the ways of the sons-of men." It is further said, "n KIM 
'pNS Disn nj?n nsn *3 "And the Lord saw that the wickedness 
of man was great in the earth." And again, ^n3T *3 fTllDSJI DIID npyt 
"the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great." This indicates our tenth 
principle of faith. 

The eleventh Principle of Faith. 

That he, the exalted one, rewards him who obeys the commands of 
the Torah, and punishes him who transgresses its prohibitions. 
That God's greatest reward to man is N3n dplj? "the future 
world," and that his strongest punishment is ni3 "cutting off." 
We have already said sufficient upon this theme. The scriptural 
verses in which the principle is pointed out are :— OnNUn NBTl bN 
^inSDD Ni *Jn» PN DN1 "Yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin — ; 
but if not, blot me out of thy book." And God replied to him, "lO 
*nBOD "l3n»N '<b SDH "IW "Whosoever hath sinned against me, 
him will I blot out of my book." This is a proof of what the 
obedient and the rebellious each obtain'. God rewards the one and 
punishes the other. 

The twelfth Principle of Faith. 

The days of the Messiah. This involves the belief and firm faith 
in his coming, and that we should not iind him slow in coming. 
Mi? nsn nDHDn'' DN "Though he tarry, wait for him." No date 

» Ezek. viii. 12 ; ix. 9. ' Jer. xxxii. 19. 

' Gen. vi. 5. . * Gen. xviii. 20. = Exod. xxxii. 3a. 

* Exod. xxxiL 33. 

' For the Arabic Vsnn (II. infin. often) the Hebrew has TWv "that he 
knows." The word ten signifies "to obtain," either in the material 
sense or figuratively in the sense of grasping or comprehending some 
scientific idea. The Hebrew gives the second signification. I have 
translated, however, in its first meaning. 

* Hab. ii. 3. 


must be fixed for his appearance \ neither may the scriptures be 
interpreted with the view of deducing the time of his coming. The 
Sages said, ^pvp '3B'n» i'B' jnn nsn "A plague on those who cal- 
culate periods " (for Messiah's appearance). We must have faith in 
him, honouring and loving him, and praying for him according to the 
degree of importance with which he is spoken of by every prophet, 
from Moses unto Malachi. He that has any doubt about him or 
holds his authority in light esteem imputes falsehood to the Torah, 
which clearly promises his coming in ' Dj??3 MB'ia " the chapter 
of Balaam," and in *Q''3V3 DON "Ye stand this day all of you 
before the Lord your God." Prom the general nature of this principle 
of faith we gather that there will be no king of Israel but from 
David and the descendants of Solomon exclusively. Every one who 
disputes the authority of this family denies God and the words of his 

The thirteenth Principle of Faith. 
The resurrection of the dead '. We have already explained this. 

» Many computations were made by Jews in the middle ages with 
regard to the time of the Messiah's appearance. It was one such 
computation by a Jewish enthusiast in Yemen (about 117a) that caused 
Maimonides to compose his famous JOTI ma's in which he says: "It is 
wrong to calculate the Messianic period, as the Yemen enthusiast thinks 
he has succeeded in doing; for it can never be exactly determined, it 
having been purposely concealed, as a deep secret, by the prophets" 
(Graetz, Sistory qf the Jews, English transl., vol. Ill, p. 478). 

' Sankedrin, 97 b. 

' Num. xxiii-xxiv. In the ]o»n mj'M Maimonides derives the exact date 
of the coming of the Messiah from the verse "i3i apS''; ntSN' DM (Num. xxiii. 
23). This is most strangely inconsistent with the advice given in this 
essay, and in the Iggereth Teman, against calculating the date of the 
Messiah's appearance. (See Br. Priedlander's Introduction to Translation 
of Moreh, vol. I.) 

* Deut. XXX. I- 10. 

' From the briefness with which Maimonides dismisses this thirteenth 
article concerning the Resurrection of the Dead, it has been inferred 
by many that he was really opposed to classing it among the fundamental 
dogmas of Judaism, and only did so as an unwilling concession to the 
current orthodox views of his day. His Moreh Nehuchim is quite silent 
on the point. Maimonides was attacked on this very question by his 
opponents during his lifetime. They complained that whereas he had 
made an exhaustive examination of the question of immortality, he 
had passed over the doctrine of Resurrection with little notice. Mai- 
monides vindicated himself by writing his famous D'nnn mnn lONO in 


When all these principles of faith are in the safe keeping of man, 
and his conviction of them is well established, he then enters 
PNItf'' ??33 "into the general body of Israel," and it is incumbent 
npon us to love him, to care for him, and to do for him all that 
God commanded us to do for one another in the way of affection 
and brotherly sympathy. And this, even though he were to be 
guilty of every transgression possible, by reason of the power of 
desire or the mastery of the base natural passions. He will receive 
punishment accoi'ding to the measure of his perversity, but he will 
have a portion in the world to come, even though he be of the 
?N"IB'^ ''JJtf'ID "transgressors in Israel." When, however, a man 
breaks away from any one of these fundamental principles of belief, 
then of him is it said that ?70n p NX'' "he has gone out of the 
general body of Israel," and ^P3J3 ISD " he denies the root-truths of 
Judaism." And he is then termed pD, and D-|1p''aK,and^rm)''DJ3 Y'^P 
" hewer of the small plants," and it is obligatory upon us to hate him 
and cause him to perish, and it is concerning him that the scriptural 
verse says:— 'NJB'N "n T'NJB'D »bn "Shall I not hate those who 
hate thee, Lord?" 

I find that I have prolonged my remarks very much and have 
departed from the main thread of my thesis. But I have been 
obliged to do so because I consider it advantageous to religious belief. 
For I have brought together for you many useful things scattered 
about in many collections of books. Therefore find happiness in 
them, and repeat this my discourse many times over, and ponder it 
well. And if your power of desire make you wish that you grasped 
its purport after going through it once, or even after reading it 
ten times, verily God knows that you have been made to desire 
an absurd thing. And so do not go through it hurriedly, for, of 

Arabic in the yeai- 1191. He says there that he "firmly believes in the 
EesuiTection as a miracle whose possibility is granted with the assumption 
of a temporal Creation" (Graetz, English transl., vol. Ill, p. 503). 
Maimonides seems to have looked on the Resurrection as a secondary 

1 nwmi ysip. The phrase is taken from the famous Midrash com- 
mencing nrp5> '311 n'ia« p sw^i* nmi pi »sw p mio") idhj nsais. It is 
Elisha ben Abuya who is ni3>'!033 ysip "the hewer of the small plants," 
because he used to enter synagogues and schools in which children were 
receiving religious instruction, and would endeavour to lead them away 
from the paths of the Torah by telling them his heretical views (nai« Tin 
j'onnDOl «'Vo Jirrto). See Midrash Ecibba Shir Ha-Shirim, chapter '3S'2n 
imn -jten ; also Talmud Jerushalmi on Chagiga in Perek j'ann \<n. 

2 Ps. oxxxix. 21. 


a truth, I have not composed it in random fashion but after reflection 
and conviction and the attentive examination of correct and incorrect 
views; and after getting to know what things out of all of them 
it is incumbent upon us to believe, and bringing to my assistance 
arguments and proofs for every individual section of the subject. 
I shall now ask God's assistance to what is right and true, and return 
to the main theme of the chapter (X of Sanhedrin).