Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/29

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
7
ACOSTA.

ance, Baruch. I hope that mine eyes may never see such another. A sinful pity arose in me until I perceived with sorrow that men are constrained to wield the lash of God. All is fixed in my memory. I see the apostate before me as he read out his recantation in the synagogue, in a white winding-sheet, not in his former imperious tone; he carried his front less audaciously high: but what good was it that he, like the Prophet Isaiah, bowed his head like a reed to the wind? And when they led him to the corner, and bound his Samson-like arms to the pillar, and bared his broad back—I see it all before me as plainly as if it were before these eyes now. The Chacham stood near the sexton, and read out the verse (Ps. lxxviii. 38): "But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath." Three times he repeated the thirteen words, and at each word the sexton laid his lash on the bare back. Not the slightest sign of pain did he give, and when he had received the required number, he still lay there motionless, his mouth kissing the ground his feet had refused to tread. At last he was reclothed and led to the entrance of the synagogue: there in the doorway he was forced to kneel, the sexton holding his head, that each as he went out might set his foot on the scarred back, and step over him in his way; I made myself heavier as I stepped, that he