What are the differences between the "typical" navi's prophecy, Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy, and Bil'am HaRasha's prophecy? (Answers with sources [and preferably links to sources] only please!)
- sees prophetic visions only in a dream state (Rambam, Hil. Yesodei Hatorah 7:2)
- becomes terrified and physically weak from the experience (ibid.)
- sees a metaphorical vision, from which he or she then deduces the actual meaning (ibid. 7:3). This is because their prophecy comes to them via an angel (ibid. 7:6) - or as the Gemara puts it (Yevamos 49b), "in an unclear mirror."
- has to prepare himself (or herself) for prophecy (ibid. 7:4), and therefore may lead a normal family life (ibid. 7:6).
Moshe Rabbeinu (ibid. 7:6):
- receives prophecy while in full control of his senses
- is able to converse with G-d without being overwhelmed, like someone talking with another person
- is told the actual content of the message directly by G-d - he "sees" Him as though "in a clear mirror"
- can receive prophecy at any time, and therefore must be permanently separated from his wife.
- was not really a navi at all, but a sorcerer (Josh. 13:22 thus calls him הקוסם). However, to honor the Jewish People, Hashem first appeared to him at night, then later via an angel, and finally during the daytime. All of this was only temporary, though, and afterwards he reverted to his former status. (Ramban to Num. 22:31; see also Sanhedrin 106a)
- even when he did receive prophecy, Hashem was (so to speak) "embarrassed" to do so, and therefore allowed it to happen only at night (Rashi to Num. 22:8). Further on, Hashem's appearances to him are depicted with the word ויקר, which suggests an "accidental," shameful, unclean experience. (Rashi to Num. 23:4)
- would fall to the ground from the intensity of the experience, because he was uncircumcised. (Rashi to Num. 24:4) (Rashi here may be disputing Rambam's statement, above, that this is true of all Jewish prophets too, except Moshe.)
HaShem has His prophets among other nations too. Here Bil'am is presented as an example. In Israel, the tipical prophet, if there is one among them, the Lord will make Himself known to him or her in a vision, and will speak to him or her in a dream. (Numb. 12:6) The only thing special about Moses in verse 7 and 8, is not that HaShem would speak to him mouth-to-mouth or face-to-face. The expression here is metaphorical for promoting Moses as the greatest of all the prophets. "Mouth-to-mouth" or "face-to-face" are not expressions to be said of G-d, Who is Incorporeal.
There is a fascinating difference that we can define between Bilam and a typical navi.
It writes in Bereishis 17:17:
וַיִּפֹּ֧ל אַבְרָהָ֛ם עַל־פָּנָ֖יו וַיִּצְחָ֑ק וַיֹּ֣אמֶר בְּלִבּ֗וֹ הַלְּבֶ֤ן מֵאָֽה־שָׁנָה֙ יִוָּלֵ֔ד וְאִ֨ם־שָׂרָ֔ה הֲבַת־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה תֵּלֵֽד׃
Avraham threw himself on his face and laughed, as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?”
Rabbeinu Bachaye there makes the following observation:
ויפול אברהם על פניו. כבר הזכיר זה למעלה ויפול אברם על פניו, אבל אותו היה לכוון דעתו לנבואה, וזה היה להתפלל על ישמעאל. ומה שהזכיר בו הכתוב לשון נפילה בכל פעם ופעם, ללמדך שקודם המילה לא היה מתנבא אלא נופל, לפי שהערלה מאוסה אצל הש"י, וכן מצינו בבלעם שכתוב בו (במדבר כ״ד:ד׳) נופל וגלוי עינים, אבל אחר שנמול היה מתנבא מעומד, והוא שכתוב (בראשית י״ח:כ״ב) ואברהם עודנו עומד לפני ה
ויפול אברהם על פניו, “Avraham prostrated himself, etc.” This had already been mentioned in verse three. At that time Avraham prostrated himself in order to be able to receive G-d’s communication. In this verse he did so in order to pray for the continued wellbeing of Yishmael. The reason the Torah mentions the word נפילה, “falling down” each time is to teach that until Avraham had circumcised himself he was not able to receive communications from G-d unless he first prostrated himself. This was because the foreskin is something G-d detests. We find something similar when Bilam, an uncircumcised Gentile prophet, received communications from G-d. He himself describes himself as נופל וגלוי עינים - “someone who has to fall down in order to receive revelations with his eyes.” Once Avraham had undergone circumcision we find that he was able to receive such communications while remaining upright. This is the meaning of 18:22 - “And Avraham still remained standing in the presence of the Lord.” (Sefaria translation)
So, it would seem that perhaps there is an entry level prophecy which is accompanied by prostration which Bilam had mastered.
When Avraham had received milah he was now a more fitting receptacle for prophecy and thus able to 'tune' in whilst upright.
As far as Moshe, the standout quality of his nevuah was the clarity of the vision. @Alex has already highlighted the Gemara in Yevamos 49b:
וָאֶרְאֶה אֶת ה׳ כִּדְתַנְיָא כׇּל הַנְּבִיאִים נִסְתַּכְּלוּ בְּאַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְאִירָה מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ נִסְתַּכֵּל בְּאַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא הַמְּאִירָה
The Gemara resolves the first contradiction: “I saw the Lord” is to be understood as it is taught in a baraita: All of the prophets observed their prophecies through an obscure looking glass [aspaklaria], i.e., their prophecies were given as metaphoric visions but were not a direct perception of the matter. However, Moses our master observed his prophecies through a clear looking glass, i.e., he gained a direct and accurate perception of the matter. (Sefaria translation & notation)
Rav Dessler zt"l in his Michtav M'Eliyahu, cheilek 5 p.452 provides a clearer definition of this chazal and further delineates Moshe's clarity of vision. He notes that (like we saw with Avraham in the Rabbeinu Bachaye) his ability to prophesise developed. Initially, his prophecies were no different to the standard navi as he also had visions that were "אַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְאִירָה", but it was through his growing sense of anavah (humility) that his nevuos became all the more clearer. Rav Dessler writes:
אבל ע"י ענוה זו נתעלה משה רע"ה למדרגת דביקות וראייה באספקלריא המאירה - בחינת פנים בפנים, שהלב והשכל מקבלים יחד צורת הענינים בלי עיכוב ועיוות מצד המדות
But through this humility Moshe Rabbeinu a"h was raised to a level of seeing through a clear looking glass - with the level of 'face-to-face', since the heart and the intellect take together the form of things without delay and distortion due to his character attributes.
In other words, his middos became so refined and distant from any arrogance that he was elevated to a heightened sense of awareness that made his types of prophecies unparalleled.