The sages removed the inclination for idol worship (gemarah in Yoma) and subsequently prophecy ceased. It is postulated that the two are interconnected. Meaning that in order to maintain free will if the desire for idol worship is removed, the prophetic ability must be shuttered as well.

If this is the case will prophecy return in the messianic age? Maimonides seems to indicate that there will be no change between our age the the age of the messiah. Does this mean no prophecy? Would those who seek a return of prophecy (notably Rabbi Abraham Issac Kook) be in a sense advocating for a return of the inclination of idol worship as well? If so by what right do they seek to overturn a decision of the Sanhedrin?

If there is no prophecy during the messianic age does that mean that those prophets who return during the resurrection of the dead will no longer receive prophecy?

  • Prophecy isn't a change in the natural order. There was no change in "nature" between when there were prophets and now, we just lack certain criteria for prophecy. Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:15
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    It's like a "cheftza" "Gavra" thing - It's not that the world doesn't have prophecy, it's just that we aren't good vessels for it. Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:16
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    prophecy, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for this interesting question! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:19
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    "It is postulated that the two are interconnected" Perhaps you should bring a source for that.
    – HodofHod
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 21:00

3 Answers 3


The Rambam in Iggeres Teiman explicitly says that prophecy will return in the year 4972 (which is 1216) and says (in the Yad) that Moshiach will be a prophet.

Moreover, the Rambam discusses the laws of prophecy in his Mishna Torah in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah. At first glace, it's out of place (it would be more appropriate to either place these laws in Hilchos Melachim with the other discussions regarding Moshiach or to remove them altogether - whatever happened [in the time of the first Beis Hamikdash] happened). The fact that the place of these halachos is in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah is because the concept of a prophet exists even in exile.

We even find a person called a Baal Tosfos called "Ezra HaNavi" in Gittin 88a D"H Vedilma

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    ...so he was wrong?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:38
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    @DoubleAA - The Rambam had to say that to curtail a nascent syncretistic messianic movement.
    – Fred
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:59
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    @AdamMosheh you can always ask, but I heard that there are two reasons: 1. We are "reminding" Hashem that Moshiach has to come, and this is a way to do it without chutzpa (like one should correct his father saying "doesn't it say such and such"). 2) In some spiritual sense, Moshiach did come in all the Keitzes mentioned in the Gemara (the Rebbe Maharash [the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe] once asked his father [the Tzemach Tzedek] why did Moshiach not come in 1843 if it was a Ketz? The Tzemach Tzedek answered that Likkutei Torah was printed) Commented May 9, 2012 at 21:02
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    @prophecy If Ezra Hanavi was one, then maybe he wasn't so far off. Commented May 9, 2012 at 21:03
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    @ShmuelBrin, perhaps you shouldn't juxtapose the two statements in your opening sentence. The first is from Iggeres Teiman whereas the second is a halachic statement from Mishneh Torah. As your opening sentence is written, it might be perceived as poisoning the well (though that wasn't your intention).
    – Fred
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 21:03

While its likely there was a connection between the disappearance of prophecy and idolatry, this does not mean the connection is absolute. It is probably only for pre-messianic times. The very purpose of Messianic times fits with the idea that there will be prophecy but not idolatry:

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14


Prophecy will indeed return in the Messianic Era. Yoel Hanavi (chapter 3, verse 1) prophesies that in the future, there will be a return of prophecies, dreams, and visions.

To answer the part of your question about Rav Kook: And although the inclination for worship of physical idols was taken away, there still exists other idolatries nowadays. According to Masechet Avodah Zarah 14b, Avraham Avinu composed tractate Avodah Zarah, and that our editions of the masechet only contain 5 out of the 400 chapters originally composed. For example, anger is a form of idolatry, yet it was not taken away. Masechet Shabbat 105b states "One who tears his clothes, breaks his utensils, and scatters his money in his rage should be in your eyes as one who commits idolatry." We do not know the extant of all the types of idolatry that were not taken away, so we also cannot know the extant of all the types of prophecy that we not taken away either. Anger (a form of idolatry) was not taken away, so too it would logically follow (as I understand) that certain types of prophecy were also not taken away. This goes in accordance with ShmuelBrin's answer that a "prophet" can exist in exile, because certain types of prophecy exist here. The evil inclination is not a bad thing as long as we are able to control its force and harness its energy for the sake of good.

  • This (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/prophesy#Verb) should be distinguished from this (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/prophecy#Noun). Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:19
  • is there any indication that this prophecy is describing the messianic age? could it be talking about a different time?
    – prophecy
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:31
  • @prophecy - Pashut that it Yoel is describing it. Look at chapter 4. I think that is obvious. Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:35
  • i do not know when Yoel lived, is it possible he is referring to the future building of the SECOND temple, and the period thereof?
    – prophecy
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:40
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    @prophecy there was no prophecy in the second beis hamikdash. Commented May 9, 2012 at 21:06

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