Prophecy and Nationhood

Why do the Patriarchs have so few prophecies while Isaiah and others have entire books?

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
INN:Toras Avigdor

AND G-D SAID TO YISRAEL IN THE VISIONS OF THE NIGHT. (46:2)

We must note the paucity of Hashem’s prophecies to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and to their sons no prophecy was granted); whereas Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel were favored with enough prophecies to fill a book in each instance.

The reason for this disparity lies in the different nature of the prophecies. The institution of prophecy which was founded by Moshe was intended to provide the nation with constant guidance and teaching. G-d therefore sent many messages to these N’viim ("speakers", from Niv: "speech").

But the Fathers had no nation to whom to speak, and therefore the institution of N’viim was not yet born. Whatever prophecy was  granted to them was an exceptional event and was wholly owing to their exceptional personal excellence, without benefit of a tradition of prophecy such as that which Moshe founded.

Now, on the eve of Jacob’s departure from Canaan, was the last time that it is stated that Hashem spoke to Jacob or that Hashem appeared to him; although he continued to prophesy even in Egypt. None of his sons were ever visited by prophecy.

FOR I SHALL MAKE YOU A GREAT NATION THERE. (46:3)

"Great" means not only in size, but even more it denotes the greatness of being G-d’s chosen people to whom He would give His Torah. This teaches that the exile in Egypt was not a random occurrence, or for chastisement. It was the "iron furnace" (Dvarim 4:20, Yirmiah 11:4) where the precious metal would become sufficiently refined to be worthy that "you shall become My peculiar treasure above all the peoples" (Shmos 19:5).

Egypt was especially planned as a preface to Sinai. But the entire plan was based on the fact that the virtuous Joseph gained almost absolute power over Egypt, and under his wise leadership the "great nation" was enabled to come into existence.  

"I shall make you a great nation there" means that there Israel would become prepared to receive the Torah: "For who is (such) a great nation that has righteous statutes and judgments such as all of this Torah" (Dvarim 4:8).


 





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