Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/423

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401
THE EXCOMMUNICATION.

his ideas will live. How very different it is to gird for a conflict without victory in mute obscurity!

In the year 1657 Benedict Spinoza went alone to the House of Jacob Synagogue in Amsterdam, accompanied by no one, greeted by no one. The people who knew him avoided this man, who was the firmest champion of the freedom of religious thought. He had no old written law to conquer for the world anew; he appeared as if he would deprive it of its strongest fortress, since he would have naught but the good old right of free thought.

In the synagogue the ten Judges sat in their seats, the president being Rabbi Isaak Aboab. Near him sat Rabbi Saul Morteira. Spinoza stood four paces distant from him. Rabbi Isaak Aboab rose and said:

"With the help of God we are here assembled to declare judgment and law on thee, Baruch ben Benjamin Spinoza. Swear to us in the name of the Almighty God that thou wilt neither deny nor conceal anything from us, and that thou wilt submit to the sentence which the Lord shall make known by our mouths."

"Deceit I know not, and lies are far from me," answered Spinoza; "I will submit to your judgment, if you judge me according to the Divine Word, and not according to the inclinations of your own hearts and the interpretations of the Rabbis."

A murmur rose in the assembly, but it could be