Judaism holds that prophecy was removed in the early 2nd temple period.

Was this view widely held accross Jewry of the 2nd temple, only held by Pharisees, or only made up later?

Did you get folk prophets like these guys (or the inspired parade of prophets that Shaul joined)?


  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/110993/… Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 13:25
  • 1
    "folk prophets" are mentioned by Josephus in a few places, but I recall once seeing a study that stated that in the Greek Josephus used different words to describe the Nevi'im and these later "prophets", which suggests that it was more common knowledge that these weren't real Nevi'im. At best, they might have had some mystic foresight abilities, but not true Nevuah.
    – Harel13
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 18:19
  • 1
    Judas the Essene Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 23:02

3 Answers 3


In the book of 1 Maccabees it's clear that both the author and the characters in the story did not believe that prophecy had ended.

1 Maccabees 4:41-46

Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.

Source: https://www.sefaria.org/The_Book_of_Maccabees_I.4.41?lang=en

basically there were unhewn stones of the alter in the Temple that they believed had now been defiled. They did not know whether it was possible to truly "cleanse" these stones and they didn't know whether these stones could just be "tossed out" because they had been used in the Temple for hundreds of years. So they had priests set the stones aside so a prophet could come and eventually tell them what to do with the stones. As far as I'm aware, that prophet never came.

This book was highly regarded and well circulated in the 2nd Temple Period. And while it is not canonical, it does shed light on how at least some Jews were thinking about prophets and prophecy.

  • 2
    Can we see from context that they weren't waiting for Moshiach?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:39
  • Also, see Harel13's comment above, which potentially applies to this. Either way +1 for a very interesting source, even if non-canonical
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:45
  • @RabbiKaii Hm, I haven't read Maccabees and pondered that particular question. But what is certain is they didn't think Mashiach was the solution to this problem, a prophet was the solution. And they thought prophets should still be coming in short enough time to do something with these stones. Otherwise i imagine they could have treated the stones like the goat for Azazel and tossed them over a cliff somewhere. We know they weren't afraid to make some big religious decisions on their own. From what I recall they celebrated Sukkot in December and our practice of Hanukkah comes from there
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:57
  • How did you find this source if you hadn't read it, if I may ask? :) Or do you mean you have read it, just not with that question in mind?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 20:11
  • I have read it, but not with that question in mind. When I read text I typically let each text speak entirely for itself and it's belief systems without reading anything external into the text. I have read Maccabees in this way. But when I reread the text I usually do so with a set of questions in my mind or with understandings of my Jewish practice that I'm supposedly supposed to pull out from the text. Alas I have only read 1 Maccabees one time 😢
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 21:00

When G'd, by request of the Sages, removed the Yetzer Hora of Avoda Zara, (the inclination to serve idols), He also removed prophecy. This was in order to balance our free choice. When there was the inclination to worship idols, G'd "balanced" our free-choice out by providing us with prophets who could help us fight that. Once that inclination disappeared, the choice to do good would no longer be balanced if we still had prophets guiding us. Hence prophecy disappeared as well. There might have been false prophets pretending to be real, but those people who wanted to see the truth, would see through them. Although prophets, when they still prophesied, would speak in a trance, they were not mad men like the one in the clip. Mad people, presumably would still believe that they were prophets, even during and after the second temple period, but you find some of those today too in mental hospitals! I should add that the Talmud (Bave Batra 12a) https://hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=23&daf=12&format=pdf has the opinion of Rabbi Avdimi from Haifa who says that from the day that the Temple was destroyed prophecy was taken from the prophets but not from the Sages, although that might refer to the Divine Inspiration (Ruach Hakodesh or Daat Torah) they receive due to their diligent Torah study. There on 12b https://hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=23&daf=12b&format=pdf there is another opinion of Rabbi Yochanan that when prophecy was removed from the prophets, it was given to fools and children.

  • @Rabbi Kaii If you have heard this line of thought before, there is no reason not to accept it without knowing if I'm a Yeshiva bochur or Rosh Yeshiva (I'm actually a Maggid shiur). I saw it first in a kuntress of the Netziv, which I haven't at hand, but Rav Dessler (Hebrew edition Vol 3 page 277) brings it from Rav Tzadok Hakohen.
    – Imanonov
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 20:23
  • Thanks for adding the sources. I am just one user, and this is just one idea I've heard of, and you've got additional details I haven't heard. It's site policy and extremely good practice to always include sources.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 20:35
  • @Rabbi Kaii: I saw that Rav Shimon Schwab ז"ל in the פתיחה to עיון תפילה page כ writes this idea as appearing in many of the כתבי הגר"א. One source is in the הגהות הגר"א to סדר עולם רבה פ"ל (hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=34250&st=&pgnum=109) on the words עד כאן היו הנביאים מתנבאים ברוח הקודש where the גר"א writes: פירוש משהרגו את היצר הרע בטלה הנבואה
    – Imanonov
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 14:31
  • Excellent thank you so much that's fantastic
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 14:37
  • 1
    @ Rabbi Kaii: a search in Otzar Hachochma using the words of the גר"א bring many ספרים who quote him, especially the משך חכמה במדבר יא-יז. See the footnote of Rabbi Cooperman ז"ל on that משך חכמה
    – Imanonov
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 18:26

Disclaimer: I am not a Jew. I came here because I read this assertion in this article from the Jewish Virtual Library, and wanted to verify it:

The Jews (with just a few exceptions) adhered to the rule that prophecy had already been annulled at the beginning of Second Temple days...

I am surprised that no one has put forward that, according to Daniel, the ending of prophecy was part of the agenda of the Messiah, and that Daniel even gave a schedule as to when it must occur:

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city until the measure of transgression is filled and that of sin complete, until iniquity is expiated, and eternal righteousness ushered in; and prophetic vision ratified, and the Holy of Holies anointed.

Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Da 9:24). Jewish Publication Society.

כדשָֽׁבֻעִ֨ים שִׁבְעִ֜ים נֶחְתַּ֥ךְ עַל־עַמְּךָ֣ | וְעַל־עִ֣יר קָדְשֶׁ֗ךָ לְכַלֵּ֨א הַפֶּ֜שַׁע וּלְהָתֵ֚ם (כתיב וּלְחָתֵ֚ם) חַטָּאוֹת֙ וּלְכַפֵּ֣ר עָו‍ֹ֔ן וּלְהָבִ֖יא צֶ֣דֶק עֹֽלָמִ֑ים וְלַחְתֹּם֙ חָז֣וֹן וְנָבִ֔יא וְלִמְשֹׁ֖חַ קֹ֥דֶשׁ קָֽדָשִֽׁים:

Rashi does not seem to address the part about prophecy and I'm not sure what he's saying about the exile of Titus. I thought that Daniel 9:24 was commonly read as referring to the building of the second Temple, not its destruction (?):

to terminate the transgression and to end sin: so that Israel should receive their complete retribution in the exile of Titus and his subjugation, in order that their transgressions should terminate, their sins should end, and their iniquities should be expiated, in order to bring upon them eternal righteousness and to anoint upon them (sic) the Holy of Holies: the Ark, the altars, and the holy vessels, which they will bring to them through the king Messiah. The number of seventy weeks is four hundred and ninety years. The Babylonian exile was seventy [years] and the Second Temple stood four hundred and twenty [years].

It seems to me that the interpretation of Daniel 9:24 hangs on the meaning of the words ולהביא צדק עלמים might mean in this context.

Moving a few chapters ahead, we get another time statement and indicator:

Daniel 12 1“At that time, the great prince, Michael, who stands beside the sons of your people, will appear. It will be a time of trouble, the like of which has never been since the nation came into being. At that time, your people will be rescued, all who are found inscribed in the book. 2Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence. 3And the knowledgeable will be radiant like the bright expanse of sky, and those who lead the many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever. 4“But you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will range far and wide and knowledge will increase.” 5Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing, one on one bank of the river, the other on the other bank of the river. 6One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the water of the river, “How long until the end of these awful things?” 7Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, swear by the Ever-Living One as he lifted his right hand and his left hand to heaven: “For a time, times, and half a time; and when the breaking of the power of the holy people comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.” 8I heard and did not understand, so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these things?” 9He said, “Go, Daniel, for these words are secret and sealed to the time of the end. 10Many will be purified and purged and refined; the wicked will act wickedly and none of the wicked will understand; but the knowledgeable will understand. (11From the time the regular offering is abolished, and an appalling abomination is set up—it will be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Happy the one who waits and reaches one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.) 12But you, go on to the end; you shall rest, and arise to your destiny at the end of the days.”

Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Da 12). Jewish Publication Society.

If this timetable applies to Daniel 9:24 (which I think it does), then doesn't that peg the end of the age of prophecy to the destruction of the Temple, the end of the sacrificial system, the Sanhedrin, the Sinai covenant, a great many Jews, and the end of Jerusalem as a theocracy c. 70 CE?

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