Imagine a person who is otherwise perfectly sane who claims to see a one-time revelation in his sleep/daydream and commits a crime, despite two witnesses warning him.

He understands the magnitude of his deed but swears that the realism of his experience left no doubts in his heart.

To stress, he claims no "long-lasting" prophetic abilities. The point here is that his reaction to the warning would be doubtful in my view and would not allow for conviction.

How is this "God told me so" claim dealt with in Jewish court when a defendant tries to justify his crime?

How differently would it be treated in the times of the first Temple when the prophecy was common or the second Temple when the sages concluded that it stopped?

  • @Salmononius2 Of course this one is not a Shoteh because he absolutely understands the severity of his actions. The person is not delusional otherwise, he keeps all the rest of the Mitzvos
    – Al Berko
    Jun 24, 2022 at 10:46
  • possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/26417/759
    – Double AA
    Jun 24, 2022 at 12:53
  • Could you clarify why would there be a different nafka mina with your new edit? From what I see, either way the person would have to be a proven prophet. In the Second Temple Era a one-time revelation would kal vachomer not have been relevant.
    – Harel13
    Jun 28, 2022 at 8:13
  • @Harel13 What do you mean by "proven"? You might recognize a state of being a prophet but I'm asking about a very specific case about the warning - does "God told me" counts as "I didn't mean to transgress" or "I did mean to transgress"? See there's no prophecy tag on the question, it is about Jewish court procedures.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 28, 2022 at 8:21
  • I don't see how that would justify anything. If he was a proven prophet, then there's reason to believe him and that it was a הוראת שעה. If not, than what's his justification? Hashem Knows very well court laws.
    – Harel13
    Jun 28, 2022 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


As explained in Mishneh Torah Sefer Madda Yesodei haTorah chapter 9 a prophet may temporarily suspend a commandment in the Torah except for the commandment against idolatry. The example given of a prophet who temporarily suspended a commandment is Eliyahu the prophet who brought a sacrifice outside of the holy temple to prove the idolators of baal wrong.

In order to justify G-d told me so such a person would have to be able to prove he or she is a prophet that G-d speaks to him. The Rambam establishes how a person can be tested to see if he or she is a prophet in Mishneh Torah Sefer Madda Yesodei haTorah chapter 10.

"..."If you are a prophet, tell us what will happen in the future." He makes his statements, and we wait to see whether [his "prophecy"] comes to fruition or not.

Should even a minute particular of his "prophecy" not materialize, he is surely a false prophet. If his entire prophecy materializes, we should consider him a true [prophet]." (translation from chabad.org)

If the person is found to be lying then he or she is executed by strangulation as a false prophet. Also found in chapter 10, "He comes to deny the prophecy of Moses and should be executed by strangulation, because he dared to make statements in God's name which God never made." (translation from chabad.org)

  • I think you have to be assumed to be a prophet prior to the sin for it to work. Not everyone could claim to be a prophet, or it would be anarchy.
    – N.T.
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:06
  • the point of the test is to prove the claim to be true or false
    – Dude
    Jun 24, 2022 at 19:21
  • Thank you. You took it to a different realm as if the person claims to be in a state of being a prophet. I was talking about a one-time experience. I rewrote the question to stress the point.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 28, 2022 at 7:23

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