Rashi on Beraishis 12 (6) says

And Abram passed through the land until the place of Shechem: to pray for Jacob’s sons when they would come to wage war in Shechem.

So Avrohom knew (prophetically) that Jacob’s sons would wage war in Shechem.

If he knew they would wage war, can we assume that he knew the outcome of the war too? And if he knew the outcome, what was the point of his prayer?

Does this mean that we have to understand that he had a limited prophecy; there would be a war but he did not know the outcome.

(Additional point – are there other examples of prayer for future events?)

2 Answers 2


It would seem that his tefillah was to change the outcome of the war (i.e., without it, Yaakov's sons might have fared badly).

In a similar vein, also about Avraham's prayers - this time "between Beis-El and Ai" - the Gemara (Sanhedrin 44b) tells us that had it not been for that prayer, the (first) battle of the Jewish people against Ai (Joshua 7) would have gone even worse (as it is, 36 people were killed): "there wouldn't have remained of the (enemies of the) Jewish people a single remnant."


Ramban mentions this Rashi and says:

And Rashi wrote, "He entered into it unto the place of Shechem to pray for the sons of Yaakov, when they would come from the field anguished. And this is correct. And I [would] add that Avraham held this place first, and before He gave him the land - it was [thus] hinted to him from this that his children would conquer this place first before they would merit [the land], and before the iniquity of the dweller of the land was complete to exile him from there. And therefore, it stated, "and the Canaanite was then in the land." And when the Holy One, blessed be He, gave him the land in a statement, then he traveled from there and planted his tent between Beit El and the Ei, since it is the place that Yehoshua conquered first....

So it would seem from Ramban that Avraham was indeed informed that they would be triumphant in their war on Shechem.

  • For a fascinating more mystical reason why he davened for the Shevatim whilst in Shechem look at the Chomas Anach - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 19:21
  • if he knew the outcome, what was the point of his prayer? Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 19:47
  • I don't yet have an answer for that! But its a start as it answers your first question about if he knew the outcome or not
    – Dov
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 20:03
  • Yes, thank you and for the reference to the Chida! Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 21:26
  • @AvrohomYitzchok maybe it is because of his prayer that it had that outcome!
    – Esther
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 20:37

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