Prophecy - Judaism

Judaism

See also: Prophets in Judaism and Nevi'im

In the Torah, prophecy often consisted of a conditioned warning by God of the consequences should the society, specific communities, or their leaders not adhere to Torah's instructions in the time contemporary with the prophet's life. Prophecies sometimes included conditioned promises of blessing for obeying God, and returning to behaviors and laws as written in the Torah. Conditioned warning prophecies feature in all Jewish works of the Tanakh.

The rabbinic teachings, notably Maimonides (Rambam), suggest there were many levels of prophecy, from the highest such as those experienced by Moses, to the lowest where the individuals were able to apprehend the Divine Will, but not respond or even describe this experience to others, mistakenly citing Noah.

Maimonides' theory of prophecy contains two elements (1) an explanation of what prophecy is, and (2) a ranking of the various types of prophecy and prophecy-like phenomena. I think we can use the ranking of prophecy implicate in Maimonides to substantiate our thesis that the rationalism of Maimonides is essentially a moral rationalism.

Maimonides, in his The Guide for the Perplexed, outlines twelve modes of prophecy from lesser to greater degree of clarity:

  1. Inspired actions
  2. Inspired words
  3. Allegorical dream revelations
  4. Auditory dream revelations
  5. Audiovisual dream revelations/human speaker
  6. Audiovisual dream revelations/angelic speaker
  7. Audiovisual dream revelations/Divine speaker
  8. Allegorical waking vision
  9. Auditory waking revelation
  10. Audiovisual waking revelation/human speaker
  11. Audiovisual waking revelation/angelic speaker
  12. Audiovisual waking revelation/Divine speaker (that refers implicitly to Moses)

Of the twelfth mode, Maimonides focuses his attention on its "implicit superiority to the penultimate stage in the above series", and therefore above all other prophetic and semi-prophetic modes.

Experience of prophecy in the Torah and the rest of Tanakh do not restrict it to Jews. Nor is the prophetic experience restricted to the Hebrew language.

The Tanakh contains prophecies from various Hebrew prophets (55 in total) who communicated messages from God to the nation of Israel, and later the population of Judea and elsewhere. In Jewish tradition Daniel is not counted in the list of prophets.

Malachi, whose full name was Ezra Ha'Sofer (the scribe), is acknowledged to have been the last prophet of Israel if one accepts the opinion that Nechemyah died in Babylon before 9th Tevet 3448 (313 BCE).

Read more about this topic:  Prophecy

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