REVELATION, an act whereby the hidden, unknown God shows Himself to man. To be sure, this phenomenon belongs to the realm of human reality, but it is experienced by man as coming from God. Phenomenologically, every religion finds its starting point in a revelation. The ancient Hebrews expressed this idea in different ways. The reflexive form, nifʿal, of the verb galah ("to uncover, reveal"), is used only rarely to denote divine revelation (Gen. 35:7; I Sam. 2:27; 3:21). In the biblical tradition, revelation consists less in the disclosing of a secret or a mystery, than in the manifestation of the invisible God, unknowable to man on his own. This view of revelation results unmistakably from the widespread use of the nifʿal of the verbs raʿah ("to see"), and yadaʿ ("to know"), to express in biblical Hebrew the idea of revelation.

The word nirʿah, "he let himself be seen, showed himself," refers originally to a visionary manifestation of God in a holy place. It occurs principally in narrative passages whose aim was to explain the origin of a holy place. In fact, holy places are often regarded as sites where theophanies took place. The accounts of such divine appearances belong to the genre of etiological tales. They are found in the Bible too, insofar as the ancient Israelites attributed the sacredness of several holy places to the fact that they were sites of divine revelations. According to Genesis 12:6–7, for instance, Abraham passed through the land to the holy site of Shechem, i.e., to the terebinth of Moreh (cf. Judg. 9:37). There the Lord "showed Himself " to Abraham, and there Abraham built an altar to the Lord. The particular holiness of the altar marking the sacred place is explained by its origin, namely, the appearance of the Lord to the patriarch. It should be noted, however, that no attempt is made to describe the apparition, and only what words were uttered and what promise was made are recorded. Nevertheless, since in this narrative there is no suggestion of a dream, the revelation probably took the form of a vision accompanied by divine words. These words are an essential element, for revelation as an event generally needs further explanation. It is only after the Lord has spoken that His manifestation can be understood and acquires importance for human life. These characteristics are common to most divine revelations in the Bible when marked by the use of the nifʿal nirʾah.

There is, however, the belief, which originated in ancient times, that it is deadly for man to see the Deity (Ex. 33:20; Judg. 13:22). Dreams and the mediation of angels have no mitigating effect, since the dream gives a stronger vision and the malʾakh YHWH ("angel of the Lord") is the epiphanic medium of the Lord, even "the Lord Himself in self-manifestation or, in other words, a personification of the theophany" (J. Skinner, Genesis (1910), 286). It is only rarely and to special persons, therefore, that YHWH makes Himself visible, and communicates to man His purposes and intentions. He does so to Abraham (Gen. 12:6–7; 17:1–2), Isaac (Gen. 26:24), Jacob (Gen. 35:9–10; 48:3–4; cf. Ex. 6:3), Moses (Ex. 3:2ff., 16–17), Manoah (Judg. 13:21–22), and Solomon (I Kings 3:5ff.; 9:2ff.). Nevertheless, He may show Himself to the whole of the people at the Tent of Meeting (Lev. 9:4, 6, 23; Deut. 31:15; cf. 31:11), which is "a kind of permanent image of the revelation on Mount Sinai" (M. Haran, in: JSS, 5 (1960), 50–65, esp. p. 58). What the people see, however, is the kavod, the "Presence of the Lord" (Lev. 9:6, 23), or the ʿammud he-ʿanan, the "pillar of cloud" (Deut. 31:15). The latter indicates the Lord's Presence, but, at the same time, veils Him from sight. The kavod, whose original conception goes back to early times (cf. I Sam. 4:21; I Kings 8:11; Ps. 24:7–10), likewise signifies a veiled appearance of God, an appearance in a manner in which no precise form can be discerned. It probably alludes to a manifestation by fire, light, and smoke, connected initially with the circumstances in which the cult operated.

Other texts use the word nodaʿ, "he made himself known," which avoids the anthropomorphic connotations of the root meaning "to see." The author of the Priestly document of the Pentateuch, however, uses both words, but opposes nodʿa to nirʾah in Exodus 6:3, the latter denoting the Deity's self-identification by name. Exodus 6:2–8, in turn, is obviously the inspiration of Ezekiel 20:5–9 and hence also of Ezekiel 35:11–12, 38:23, and 39:7 as well, where the causative form hifʿil is used with the Lord's Name as object (cf. Isa. 19:21). In all these texts, nodaʿ is connected with the formula ʾani YHWH ("I am the Lord"). These texts may be compared with similar expressions known from Mesopotamia: "I am Ningirsu," "I am Ishtar of Arbela," "I am the god Nabú," etc. The difference between these Oriental self-revelation formulas and the biblical one consists in the fact that the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is usually followed by the statement that the Lord is the God Who brought lsrael out of Egypt, and Who guides them through history. The God of Israel thus reveals Himself as acting in historical events. It may reasonably be inferred, therefore, that, according to the Bible, history is the milieu of God's revelation.

It has been objected that God's acting in history plays no real role in the biblical wisdom literature. This has, in fact, been a very awkward point for those who assert that revelation in history is central to Hebrew thought. The difficulty, however, seems to have originated in a confusion between revelation as understood by ancient Israelites and as viewed by modern scholars who are aware of a systematic biblical theology.

In the Pentateuch and the Former and Latter Prophets, God reveals Himself, His plans, or His will, through words or events. The other books of the Bible are generally thought not to contain revelations of this kind. In relation to modern theology, it must be emphasized that both revelation and wisdom phenomenologically proceed from experiences of life. Wisdom characteristically classifies the elementary experiences of daily life, whereas revelation results from "prophetic" interpretations of exceptional events in the life of the people or even of the "prophet" himself. (For the revelation on Mt. Sinai, see the Book of *Exodus.)

[Edward Lipinski]

In Talmudic Literature

The manifestation of God in acts or appearances which overawe man (gillui Shekhinah) is the theme of many passages in talmudic and midrashic literature. However, the main concern of talmudic thought is not so much with God's revelation of Himself or of His attributes (although this too is an important topic), but rather with God's revelation of His word to man (devar Adonai). Much is said regarding the revelation of God's word to the forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as to other biblical characters, and especially to the prophets; a vast number of talmudic sources deal with the revelation of God's word par excellence, the Torah. Favorite topics of the Midrashim are the giving of the Torah (mattan Torah), the importance of the Torah for the world and for the people of Israel, the nature of the Torah, its permanence, etc.

Much less attention is devoted to the nature of the act of revelation, and what is said regarding the process in which God's world is revealed to the Jewish people and to the prophets is not nearly so systematic as the treatment of these topics in philosophy and in patristic literature. Talmudic sources assume a hierarchy of different forms of revelation, varying from inspiration by the Holy Spirit (*Ru'aḥ ha-Kodesh) to *prophecy itself; and of prophecy there are different degrees, of which the prophecy of Moses represents the highest. However, this scheme comes to demarcate the Torah, which represents the prophecy of Moses, from the works of the prophets, and these again from the other books in the Bible which are inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is bound up, therefore, with the sanctity and authority to be assigned to the different holy writings. Similar remarks apply to the talmudic sources regarding the psychological aspects of revelation. Sometimes the divine manifestation takes place in a vision or in a dream or through the mediation of an angel; but Moses speaks to God face to face whenever he wishes. He beholds God as in a translucent mirror, whereas the other prophets see as in a dark glass (Lev. R. 1:14; Yev. 49b). The stature of Moses as a prophet thus guarantees the sanctity and authority of Torat Moshe – the Pentateuch.

The Torah is identified with the wisdom which had existed before the creation of the world (Sif. Ekev 37; Gen. R. 1:4) and is regarded as the instrument with which the world was created (Sif. Devarim 48; Avot 3:14). The concept of Torah is thus broadened to include not only God's commandments, the admonitions to observe the commandments, and stories of the forefathers, but also the admonition of all the other prophets and the ethical maxims of the other books of the Bible. Thus there occurs the notion that all the prophecies of all the prophets were included in the revelation on Sinai – they were formulated and publicized by later prophets when the need arose (Ex. R. 29, 6; Tanḥ. Yitro 11).

The notion of the sanctity of the Torah as being the word of God is, therefore, the core of the talmudic teaching regarding revelation, and forms the theme of several passages which are specially important as representing the sources for the doctrines concerning revelation which came to be formulated in medieval Jewish philosophy.

One such passage is the Mishnah (Sanh. 10 (11):1) which tells that among the Israelites who have no portion in the world to come are those who deny that the Torah is from Heaven (Torah min ha-Shamayim). An expansion of this is afforded by the Sifrei (Shelaḥ, ed. Horowitz, p. 121) which says that also he who admits that the Torah is the word of God but maintains that one particular matter was said by Moses of his own accord is to be regarded as "a despiser of the word of God" (Num. 15:31). The baraita parallel to this is quoted in the talmudic discussion as an explanation of the Mishnah in Sanhedrin 99a and differs from the Sifrei only in emphasizing in more detail that even he who says a particular verse, a particular point, a particular a fortiori argument, or a particular inference by analogy was said by Moses of his own accord is to be regarded as a despiser of the word of God. Thus the concept of Torah min ha-Shamayim is associated primarily with the notion that every syllable of the Bible has the verity and authorship of the word of God. The contents of the sacred books are to be regarded throughout as conscientious and homogeneous, with not only no contradiction in them, but also no real differences (G.F. Moore). This concept of the underlying unity of the Scriptures, and especially of the Pentateuch, is connected with the notion of layers of deeper meanings beneath the words of the Written Torah of which the plain literal meaning is only the surface. Such a conception not only leads to the mystic notion of the oneness of the Torah, which is hinted at in several talmudic passages and comes to be expressed in particularly striking form by the medieval mystics (particularly Naḥmanides); it also forms the basis (cf. Y. Baer) for the explication of the traditional distinction between the Written and the Oral Law, the latter providing the real significance and true interpretation of the words of the written text.

Scholars such as Joel, Kohler, Boaz Cohen, and Heschel (see also below) have argued that Abbaye's statement (Meg. 31b) that the curses in Deuteronomy were said by Moses "of his own accord" (mi-pi aẓmo), and other statements in similar vein (see A.J. Heschel, Torah min ha-Shamayim, vol. 2, chs. VII and IX), reflect the dissenting view that there are parts of the Torah that are not literally inspired. However, this may be an error based on the ambiguous meaning of the expression "of his own accord" (for traditional sources concerning this see M.M. Kasher, Torah Shelemah, 19 (1959), 333–42).

The concept of the literal inspiration of the Torah is an important premise of the *hermeneutics of the Oral Law (Torah she-be-Al Peh) which sometimes treats the written text as little more than a series of mnemonic signs. Such an attitude is especially characteristic of the hermeneutics of R. Akiva and his school, but even R. Ishmael and his school, although they maintained that the Written Torah speaks the "language of men," nonetheless regarded each word as divinely inspired. The contrary has been argued by A.J. Heschel (Torah min ha-Shamayim, vol. 1, p. 16 and vol. 2, chs. VI and VII) in a work attempting to show that the two schools held basically different concepts of the Torah and of the nature of revelation.

The chief revelation of God to Moses and to His people took place at Mount Sinai. It is not explicitly stated either in the Pentateuch or in talmudic literature that this was a case of mass prophecy. Differing views concerning this are expressed in medieval Jewish philosophy. However, the revelation of the Torah to Moses is naturally interpreted as a prophetic phenomenon. That the revelation at Mount Sinai consisted of the giving to Moses of the whole Torah (including the Oral Law), and not merely the Ten Commandments, is stated in many talmudic and midrashic sources. This would seem to imply that the whole of the Torah was revealed to Moses, detail by detail, during his 40 days on Sinai in such a way that when he came down there was nothing left to be revealed. However, other commandments are said to have been given in the Tabernacle and at Arboth Moab. Talmudic sources offer different opinions to reconcile these statements. Different opinions are also offered regarding the writing of the Torah. The Mishnah in Avot 1, which is one of the primary talmudic sources associating the Torah with Sinai, seems to be referring particularly to the Oral Law. Some sources, however (TJ, Shek. 6:49d and Sot. 8:22d; Song R. 5:11 and Deut. R. 3:12, etc.), mention a scroll which was given at the same time. Other opinions maintain that the Torah was written piecemeal (scroll by scroll) during the 40 years of wanderings in the desert, or that it was written down all at once at the end of those 40 years (Git. 60a). There are also sources which speak of the existence of scrolls before Sinai (Kasher, pp. 356–62).

The attribution of the Written Torah to Moses is affirmed by a tannaitic source (quoted in BB 14b and TJ, Sot. 5:6–end) which relates that Moses wrote his own book, the portion of Balaam and Job, while Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch. In the discussion arising out of this passage a dissenting opinion is quoted which ascribes even the last eight verses of the Torah (describing his own death) to Moses. The authorship referred to in this passage is ostensibly comparable to Joshua's authorship of the book bearing his name. However, such a straightforward conception of literary authorship will be modified by the claim that the Torah is literally inspired and is the revealed word of God to Moses. Nevertheless, that the Torah is written by Moses is everywhere assumed in talmudic and midrashic literature, and the Torah is frequently described as Torat Moshe – the "Torah of Moses."

It has been plausibly argued (J.J. Petuchowski) that of the two traditional notions, the heavenly origin of the Torah (Torah min ha-Shamayim) and Mosaic authorship, the former is dogmatic in character in talmudic thought, whereas the latter is more in the nature of an accepted truth about literary authorship. The two notions are at any rate disparate in importance.

In receiving the Torah, Moses acted as a scribe writing from dictation, as was the case with Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah (BB 15a). This is the passage that has been dominant in subsequent attempts to describe the nature of the Mosaic revelation in medieval Jewish philosophy. But there are midrashic sources which would seem to support a less mechanical and more instrumentalist conception of revelation. Thus the Midrash (Ex. R. 47–end) relates that the angels, jealous of the role entrusted to Moses in bringing the Torah to mankind, voice suspicions that Moses might write his own ideas into the Torah. God replies that Moses would not do so; but even if he did he could be trusted to represent reliably the divine will. There is, however, no attempt in talmudic thought to provide the sort of instrumentalist analogies of revelation which are offered in patristic thought – the inspired writer as a vessel which the Holy Spirit proceeds to fill, etc. On the other hand, revelation, like prophecy, comes to each individual in accordance with his capacities. When the voice went forth at Sinai, God addressed each person with a voice he could endure (Ex. R. 5:9).

The voice from Sinai (kol mi-Sinai) is a characteristic talmudic theme. This voice already included all the words of the prophets, and indeed the rabbis of later ages received what they say at Sinai (Ex. R. 28:6; Tanḥ. Yitro 11, etc.). This may be interpreted (E.E. Urbach, p. 270) as a talmudic attempt to restrict revelation so far as possible to a onetime act in order to emphasize the irrelevance in matters of halakhah. On the other hand, according to other sources, the voice from Sinai has not yet stopped; so that even though the Holy Spirit has departed from Israel with the cessation of prophecy and subsequent revelations are confined to a Heaven-inspired echo (bat kol; 13:2; Sanh. 11a), this heavenly echo still goes forth each day from Sinai to announce that woe will befall all those who slight the Torah (Avot 6:2).

[Jacob Joshua Ross]

Ancient and Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Understanding the nature and process of prophetic revelation and especially its relation to reason constitutes one of the major areas of interest in Jewish religious philosophy. The question of the authority of the Mosaic revelation appears in its purest form in the works of *Philo, who wrote before the rise of Christianity and Islam. In later periods the differing claims of the other two monotheistic religions had to be taken into account: Islam, primarily in the Judeo-Arabic phase of medieval Jewish philosophy, and Christianity, in the Hebrew phase from the 13th through the 16th centuries in Spain, southern France, and Italy.


The Mosaic revelation is central for Philo. In his view, statements in the Pentateuch can be divided into three categories: that of the direct revelation of God Himself by means of a created voice which Moses heard; those which came about as a result of the questions of Moses; and those which are the result of divine inspiration (Mos. 2:188). Moses himself is viewed as a philosopher king, in accordance with Plato's Republic, as well as a legislator, high priest, and prophet. "Moses necessarily obtained prophecy also, in order that through the providence of God he might discover what by reasoning he could not grasp" (ibid. 2:6). The allegorical method of interpreting revelation is the tool by means of which the conflict between the demands of philosophy and the apparent meaning of revelation can be reconciled. The use of allegorical interpretation is mandatory in respect to anthropomorphic expressions about God which must not be taken literally. The purpose of the revealed law is to serve as the constitution of the ideal state, caring for both the spiritual and material welfare of mankind.


In the age of *Saadiah Gaon the claim of the Mosaic revelation to authority had to be justified against the Christian and Islamic assertions that it had been abrogated (Book of Beliefs and Opinions, 3). Confirmation of the prophet's mission lies in the miracles performed by him. The confirmation of the truth of revelation for those living after the time of its promulgation lies in tradition which, for Saadiah, is the fourth source of authentic knowledge in addition to sense perception, the first principles of reason, and logical inference. The commandments themselves fall into two major divisions: the rational and the nonrational or "obediential." Saadiah supposes that even rational commandments need to have been revealed in order to fix the details of their performance. Furthermore, he is of the opinion that revelation is necessary for those who would take a long time in arriving or never arrive at the truth by unaided reason. Allegorical interpretation plays a much more restricted role than in the case of Philo.


It is interesting to note that the chief representative of the neoplatonic trend of Jewish thought, Solomon ibn *Gabirol, does not even consider the problem of the relation of reason to revelation, nor does he quote Scripture in his Mekor Ḥayyim. His predecessor, Isaac b. Solomon *Israeli, does deal with the problem of the prophet and prophecy in passing. The prophet and the sage on the highest level, he who has achieved union with the Divine, are identified. But the prophet expresses himself in imaginative language in order to teach and guide the vulgar masses. One of the functions of the imaginative faculty of the prophet is to express in figurative symbols and sensible images material derived from reason, a view which is related to that of al-*Fārābĩ and which is to be found in Maimonides' Guide.


With *Judah Halevi, the autonomous character of revelation and its superiority to reason come to the fore. In Judah Halevi's thought, the "divine command" (alamr al-ilāhĩ), which is the link between God and man, clings to the prophet chosen by God to reveal His will to man. The prophet is superior to the philosopher by the very fact that his knowledge is derived directly from God, whereas the science of the philosopher is subject to doubt. Judah Halevi's concept is based on the neoplatonic concept of nature being ordered hierarchically in a great chain of being, that is, an upward progression from ordinary man to philosopher to Israel and the prophets and then the Divine. Contrary to his predecessor, Judah Halevi considers the unique quality of revelation to lie in its nonrational character. The ritual commandments are the true link between the people of lsrael and God. In the first treatise of his Kuzari, the claims of Christianity and Islam to have supplanted the Mosaic revelation are dismissed on the grounds that the beliefs of Christianity are inherently improbable while the Muslim claims lack supporting evidence at the same time that the divine origin of the Mosaic revelation is conceded.


Maimonides returns to a more Aristotelian concept of revelation in which he follows in the footsteps of his Islamic predecessors al-Fārābĩ and *Avicenna. Essentially Maimonides treats prophecy as a natural phenomenon: "Know that the true reality and quiddity of prophecy consists in it being an overflowing from God … through the intermediation of the Active Intellect, toward the rational faculty in the first place and thereafter toward the imaginative faculty" (Guide, 2:36). If the rational faculty alone comes into play, the individual is a philosopher and if only the imaginative faculty is brought into play, the individual belongs to the class of statesmen. Therefore, essentially the prophet is a philosopher statesman in accordance with the Platonic tradition. Thus Maimonides takes a position similar to that of Philo mentioned above. The position of Moses in this scheme is problematic since, according to Maimonides in both his Guide and his Mishneh Torah, the imaginative faculty did not play any role in his prophecy and he prophesied whenever necessary. In a famous passage Maimonides states that "the Law as a whole aims at two things: the welfare of the soul and the welfare of the body" (Guide, 3:27). For the masses, belief has a political role to play, for the masses cannot achieve the heights of metaphysical speculation which alone insure true happiness and the immortality of the intellect. For the philosopher, the Law insures his political well-being and allows him the necessary leisure to indulge in the delights of the mind. Therefore, the function of revelation may be defined as essentially political in nature, not as a means to individual salvation. In order to reconcile any conflicts between philosophy and the apparent meaning of revelation, the allegorical method of interpretation is used. It would seem just to conclude from Maimonides' historical analysis of the origin of the sacrificial cult that he was satisfied with the status quo existing in his time and envisaged the possibility of the abrogation of part of the Mosaic code, although in speaking as a legist he took of course a completely different position in his Mishneh Torah.


Maimonides exercised great influence on the development of philosophy in Hebrew by way of both support and criticism. Ḥasdai *Crescas, writing in 14th-century Christian Spain, and pressed by the attacks of the Catholic Church and its inroads on the Jewish community, emphasized the idea that the happiness of man lies essentially in the love of God and in the service of God through the observance of the commandments of the Torah. Here revealed religion is given intrinsic value contrary to the view of the Aristotelians.


Joseph *Albo tries to steer a middle course between the conservative position of Judah Halevi and the more rational position of Maimonides. He begins his Sefer ha-Ikkarim by stating that "human reason is not capable of comprehending things as they are in reality … There must therefore be something higher than the human intellect by means of which the good can be defined and the true comprehended in a manner leaving no doubt at all. This can only be done by means of divine guidance …" (Book of Principles, ed. and tr. by I. Husik, 1 (1929), 5). For Albo, intellectual perfection is not the ultimate goal, but rather "belief in God and His Torah brings man to eternal happiness and causes his soul to cleave to the spiritual substance" (ibid., 1, ch. 21). His definition of prophecy is worded very much like that of Maimonides (ibid., 3:8, p. 71), but emphasis is laid on the intervention of the divine will which interferes with the natural process more drastically than in the case of Maimonides. It would seem that Albo's limitation of the rationalistic approach of Maimonides is due to the pressure of Christian polemics.


Baruch *Spinoza in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus ("Theological Political Treatise"), combating both the conservative and rational attitudes represented by his Jewish predecessors, clearly strips revelation of all authority except in the sphere of morals and ethics, and pleads for freedom from the thrall of revealed doctrine, thus laying part of the foundation for the emergence of the modern era.

[Lawrence V. Berman]

Modern Jewish Philosophy

In modern Jewish philosophy the term "revelation" embraces a variety of meanings, ranging from the supernatural communication of divine truth and instruction to the apprehension of God's will and attributes through the exercise of man's spiritual or rational faculties.

In conformity with deistic doctrines concerning "natural religion," Moses *Mendelssohn maintained that the "universal religion of reason" contains all the doctrinal elements and moral perceptions needed for salvation. The supernatural revelation received by lsrael at Sinai does not impinge upon the domain of the "universal religion of reason," for Judaism is not a revealed religion but revealed legislation, providing specific laws for the regulation of conduct but not concepts (Jerusalem (1862), pt. 2, ch. 3).

Idealistic thinkers reformulated the concept of revelation as a gradual process. Divine truth is revealed to man through his intellectual faculties in an educational process of "continuous" or "progressive" revelation. Nachman *Krochmal, whose views were influenced to a large extent by Hegelian categories of thought, considered revelation the process of ever-increasing consciousness of the immanent Divine Spirit. Similarly, Solomon *Formstecher and Samuel *Hirsch maintained that revelation constitutes the recognition of the Divine Spirit manifesting itself in man, not the communication received from a transcendent sphere. The last vestiges of opposition between reason and revelation are overcome in the neo-Kantian system of Hermann *Cohen. God reveals His will by creating man as a rational creature who through his reason is capable of apprehending the laws of logic and ethics. Thus, revelation no longer refers to any historic event nor even any special mode of cognition; it characterizes a trait of man, who through the possession of his rational faculties becomes the bearer of divine revelation (Die Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (1919), 82–92).

In radical opposition to all idealistic trends, Solomon Ludwig *Steinheim emphasized the inadequecy of speculative reason in the realm of religious truth. Objecting also to Mendelssohn's position, he stressed the primacy of the doctrinal, rather than legislative, elements in the content of revelation. Only through revelation can belief in a freely creating God arise (Die Offenbarung nach dem Lehrbegriffe der Synagoge, 1 (1835), 318). Although Steinheim did not regard revelation as a process, but as a particular event in which the word of God is communicated to man, he was not committed to the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scripture. The latter doctrine is the basis of Samson Raphael *Hirsch's system, which stresses the belief in the divine origin of both the Oral and the Written Law.

Existentialists opposed the theories that consider revelation primarily as the transmission of content consisting either of metaphysical principles or moral and ritual laws. Martin *Buber advocated a conception of revelation involving a dialogic relationship between man and God. Revelation is the encounter of the Presence of God, not the communication of ideas or instructions. Revelation constitutes a wordless address, which in turn stimulates a human response (Eclipse of God (1952), 135). This response, according to Buber, never gives rise to a general law, but only to a unique, subjective deed or commitment.

Although Franz *Rosenzweig subscribed to the premise that revelation represents the manifestation of a relationship in the form of a dialogue, he emphasized that it depends upon the will of God, Who chooses to reveal Himself at specific times to different individuals. Through revelation a covenantal relationship is established between man and God. As a responsible partner in this dialogue, man is expected to respond to God's demand, embodied in the revelational event, by concrete action. Thus, the commandments arise through man's response to God's revelation (N.N. Glatzer (ed.), On Jewish Learning (1965), 109–24).

According to Abraham J. *Heschel, revelation represents an event in which God communicates His teachings and concern for man. The act of revelation is a unique, mysterious event that cannot be reduced to the categories of mystical experience or psychophysical processes. The recipient plays an active role in casting the content of the revelation into the mold of his own personality, but he must not be considered merely an inspired visionary: he is a witness to a specific act of "God's turning towards man" (A.J. Heschel, God in Search of Man (1955), 198).

Naturalist thinkers such as *Aḥad Ha-Am and Mordecai *Kaplan do not see in revelation anything more than a purely subjective experience. Opposed to them, Orthodox thinkers are committed to the traditional view of revelation as the disclosing of God's will to man in the form of specific commandments. They view the process of the development of the Oral Law as an extension of the original revelation at Sinai, which continually provides new insights into God's will for man. Yet, revelation as a process is not necessarily limited to the elucidation or development of the content of the Sinaitic revelation. Drawing upon kabbalistic categories of thought, Abraham Isaac *Kook maintained that revelation is the apprehension of reality in the the light of the Shekhinah, or "Divine Presence," resulting in the perception of the underlying unity of all existence (Orot ha-Kodesh, pt. 1 (1963), 73). In the view of Joseph B. *Soloveichik, the height of religious development is the experience of the Presence of God. It is in the "covenantal community" that man in dialogue with God "re-experiences the rendezvous with God in which the covenant … originated" ("Lonely Man of Faith," in: Tradition (1965), 46).

[Walter S. Wurzburger]


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