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28. Exaggeration and Figurative Language
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By this point, it should not surprise us that the Bible utilizes both figurative speech and exaggeration to make vivid points. [II, 47] The Talmud (Chulin 90b) tells us explicitly that this is the case and it provides us with two examples, one from the Torah and one from the Writings. Deuteronomy 1:28 describes the […]
27. Real or Vision?
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When the Tanach describes an instance of prophecy, it is indicative of all prophecies in the same category. [II, 46] For example, a person may dream that he has traveled to a foreign land, married, settled down, and raised a family, though none of this actually happened. The same is true of prophetic allegories: the […]
26. Degrees of Prophecy
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Just as there are different types of prophecy, there are different degrees of intensity [II, 45]. However, while they are all degrees of prophecy, not all of these levels necessarily qualified one to be considered a prophet. The lowest two are merely steps on the way to attaining that status. (Sometimes such a person is […]
25. The Various Forms of Prophecy
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We have already said that prophecies were delivered through dreams and visions. When a prophet did receive a message, it could come in a variety of forms [II, 44]: * It might be in the form of an allegory; * The prophet might perceive God speaking to him, as in Isaiah 6:8 (“I heard the […]
24. The Interpretation of Prophetic Allegories
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Prophets would sometimes receive their prophecies in the form of allegories. In such a case, they would be shown or told the allegory, followed by its meaning. [II, 43] In dreams, it is possible for a person to believe that he is awake. In his dream, he can even relate a dream to another person, […]
23. Dreams and Visions
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As we have already discussed, all the prophets other than Moshe received their prophecies in dreams and visions. We understand what dreams are but what are visions? The Rambam describes a vision as an intense, dreadful feeling that washes over a prophet while awake. [II, 41] To support this, the Rambam cites the Book of […]
22. The Gifts of Intellect and Imagination
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Prophecy, as we have discussed, entails a combination of intellectual perfection and imaginative perfection. Each person possesses these qualities to a different degree. [II, 37] Some people have just enough wisdom to run their own lives, while others possess enough to influence their neighbors, their society, or the world. People with great intellect but without […]
20. What is Prophecy?
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Prophecy is the ability to receive and decode Divine emanations. It is the highest spiritual level to which a person can aspire as it requires a highly-developed imaginative prowess (by which we mean the ability to conceive of things not perceived through the usual five senses – refer to Aristotle’s concept of “imagination” or “phantasia”). […]
19. Moshe’s Unique Level of Prophecy
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In the Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:6) and his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin chapter 10), the Rambam gives four ways in which the prophecy of Moshe is different from that of other prophets. He declines to revisit this topic in Moreh Nevuchim as too great a departure from his main subject since the […]