Why Are There No More Prophets?

editor Friday 12 January 2018 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email Printer friendly

By Yehuda Sherpin.. The Talmud explains that with the death of the latter prophets Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi at the very beginning of the Second Temple era, “the spirit of prophecy departed.” Why did that happen?

Maimonides: Lack of Joy
The Talmud states, “Prophecy does not come upon a prophet when he is sad or languid.” Maimonides (1105-1204) in his Guide for the Perplexed explains that every faculty of a person’s body at times grows weak and at other times is healthy. The “imaginative faculty,” through which the prophet receives prophecy, is no different than the other faculties. Prophets were thus unable to prophesy when they mourned, were angry, or were similarly affected, as can be seen with Jacob when he mourned Joseph’s perceived death. This, Maimonides explains, is the “primary reason” why prophecy ceased during the time of exile. For what could bring a person to sadness more than being in servitude to sinful nations?

Although prophecy departed at the beginning of the Second Temple period, when the Jewish people were technically not exiled, they were beholden to foreign governments.

Others disagree with Maimonides’ designation of prophecy as a mere “faculty of the body.” Instead, it is seen as a divine gift. Thus, on an individual level, “prophecy does not rest amidst sadness,” but prophecy does not rest on the on the nation as a whole due to the wickedness of their deeds. As G‑d says about such a time of spiritual failings, “I hid My face from them.” Read the full story.



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