Wednesday, November 14, 2007

4th Kislev - Final Prophecy

Today, fourth of Kislev, is the anniversary of the last time that G-d spoke directly to a prophet. Rashi on Yoma 21b (with the glosses in the margin) explains that the Shechina and Ruach HaKodesh didn't rest on prophets from the fourth year of Darius's reign.

Even though Malachi is listed as the last prophet in the Tanach, Zechariah's prophecy spanned his prophecy and continued afterward.

It is not clear why prophecy stopped (although there are many theories - for example the Vilna Gaon links it to the visit of Alexander the Great to Jerusalem, others link it to the Anshei K'nesses removing the yetzer hara for idolatry), or even whether it has ceased (Rambam seems to imply that there could be prophecy today, although there isn't for some reason).

This text is beautiful - especially as the final direct word from G-d to His poeple. Even though it is at the time of the building of the Second Temple there is already a promise of the future exile and redemption. And wherever we are in the world, G-d cares about us and will bring us back to Israel.

7:1 It happened in the fourth year of king Darius that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 7:2 The people of Bet-el sent Sharezer and Regem Melech, and their men, to entreat the L-rd’s favor, 7:3 and to speak to the Cohanim of the house of the L-rd of Hosts, and to the prophets, saying, “Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?”

7:4 Then the word of the L-rd of Hosts came to me, saying, 7:5 “Speak to all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh month for these seventy years, did you at all fast to me, really to me? 7:6 When you eat, and when you drink, don’t you eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? 7:7 Aren’t these the words which the L-rd proclaimed by the former prophets, when Yerushalayim was inhabited and in prosperity, and its cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”

7:8 The word of the L-rd came to Zechariah, saying, 7:9 “Thus has the L-rd of Hosts spoken, saying, ‘Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. 7:10 Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’ 7:11 But they refused to listen, and turned their backs, and stopped their ears, that they might not hear. 7:12 Yes, they made their hearts as hard as flint, lest they might hear the law, and the words which the L-rd of Hosts had sent by his Spirit by the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the L-rd of Hosts. 7:13 It has come to pass that, as he called, and they refused to listen, so they will call, and I will not listen,” said the L-rd of Hosts; 7:14 “but I will scatter them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they have not known. Thus the land was desolate after them, so that no man passed through nor returned: for they made the pleasant land desolate.”

8:1 The word of the L-rd of Hosts came to me. 8:2 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “I am jealous for Tzion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.”

8:3 Thus says the L-rd: “I have returned to Tzion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Yerushalayim shall be called ‘The City of Truth;’ and the mountain of the L-rd of Hosts, ‘The Holy Mountain.’”

8:4 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “Old men and old women will again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 8:5 The streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”

8:6 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my eyes?” says the L-rd of Hosts.

8:7 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8:8 and I will bring them, and they will dwell in the midst of Yerushalayim; and they will be my people, and I will be their G-d, in truth and in righteousness.”

8:9 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who hear in these days these words from the mouth of the prophets who were in the day that the foundation of the house of the L-rd of Hosts was laid, even the temple, that it might be built. 8:10 For before those days there was no wages for man, nor any wages for an animal; neither was there any peace to him who went out or came in, because of the adversary. For I set all men everyone against his neighbor. 8:11 But now I will not be to the remnant of this people as in the former days,” says the L-rd of Hosts. 8:12 “For the seed of peace and the vine will yield its fruit, and the ground will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. 8:13 It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Yehudah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”

8:14 For thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “As I thought to do evil to you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath,” says the L-rd of Hosts, “and I didn’t repent; 8:15 so again have I thought in these days to do good to Yerushalayim and to the house of Yehudah. Don’t be afraid. 8:16 These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, 8:17 and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says the L-rd.

8:18 The word of the L-rd of Hosts came to me. 8:19 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “The fasts of the fourth fifth, seventh, and tenth months shall be for the house of Yehudah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.”

8:20 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “Many peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come; 8:21 and the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go speedily to entreat the favor of the L-rd, and to seek the L-rd of Hosts. I will go also.’ 8:22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the L-rd of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the L-rd.” 8:23 Thus says the L-rd of Hosts: “In those days, ten men will take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they will take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you.’”

After this, according to the Gemara in Bava Basra (14b), prophecy superseded by the 'wisdom' of the Sages and scholars. What prophecy remained was given to the children and the fools!

Cross posted from

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