A bat kol, lit. a 'daughter of a voice', is understood by Marcus Jastrow as a divine voice, a substitute for prophecy. The instance of a bat kol occurs many times in the Talmud1. There are sources that clearly indicate when prophecy ended, and these sources identify the bat kol as a replacement of sorts.

How was the experience of a bat kol different from that of actual prophecy?

From the sources I've seen, they seem to be short experiences and their name, which is also understood as an echo or a reverberating sound by Jastrow, indicates that they may have been unclear and hard to make out. Do any sources or commentaries discuss the differences?

Sources preferred, but any well-reasoned ideas welcome.

1 For instance B.Bath 58a, Erub. 13b, Avoth 6:2, Ber 3a, Shab 88a, Meg 3a, and I'm sure many many more.

  • tosefta??
    – Double AA
    Jul 27, 2014 at 13:11
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    – Menachem
    Jul 27, 2014 at 19:32
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    The one in Bava Metzia 59b is clearly heard by multiple people. (Didn't check the ones you listed.) Isn't prophecy usually to a single recipient? (If you say: the 70 elders + Eldad and Meidad, I'm under the impression that they had individual, if simultaneous, experiences.) Jul 27, 2014 at 20:48
  • @MonicaCellio perhaps they all had an individual experience with the same general thrust? (also, leave the elders, and bring to bear the myriads at sinai!)
    – Baby Seal
    Jul 27, 2014 at 20:51
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    Someone once showed me עלי שור who wrote that בת קול is an inner feeling, an absolute certainty that something is a certain way. If I can find it I'll post an answer.
    – MTL
    Jul 28, 2014 at 1:18

2 Answers 2


Ramban (Shemos 28:30) writes that communicating with the Urim Vetumim is of a lower level of (clarity) than regular prophecy though of a higher level than a bat kol.

Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:42) explains that both Hagar and Monach could receive a revelation (/communication) from Hashem, yet they were not technically prophets. Rashi on Megillah 32a describes the experience of a Bat Kol as encouraging or discouraging a person's inner resolve in some matter.

So a Bat Kol could accommodate non-prophets. It also seems that it was an experience that could be had in a waking state, unlike prophecy that brought on a trance of sorts, (see Moreh 2:45).

Rabeinu Bachye (Devarim 33:8) says that the Bat Kol was a product of the actual voice of God, and tapered off, becoming thinner like the legs of a chair from its seat. A similar stance is taken by Tosafot Sanhedrin 11a, who explains that a Bat Kol is heard similarly to when a man strikes something and a sound of it is heard from far off, like an echo.

This figuratively suggests that a Bat Kol was succinct, and harder to discern.

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    @BabySeal You write that the RAMBAM doesn't mention the Bat Kol, this is not correct. He mentions Hagar in the guide, Chapter XLII ia902306.us.archive.org/20/items/the_guide_for_the_perplexed/… he says of hagar, that she is not a prophetess and she heard the bat kol.
    – barlop
    Aug 4, 2014 at 12:54
  • Zvi, you write " Rambam explains that it is the word of a malach (angel).". I don't think you're right. See my link to RAMBAM's guide. In Chapter XLII if you read it carefully, RAMBAM says that Angel can mean man, and he thinks it meant man in the case of Hagar. So he thinks Hagar did not hear the voice of an angel. (if she had perhaps the RAMBAM would've considered it prophecy). RAMBAN thinks angels are through visions but the vision of an angel is not prophecy vbm-torah.org/archive/ramban/06ramban.htm
    – barlop
    Aug 4, 2014 at 12:57
  • I have edited..
    – Baby Seal
    Aug 7, 2014 at 3:42

Prophecy is a vision. Bat Kol is the voice of God, which is sometimes given to more than one person at once, while prophecy is personal.

  • The OP explicitly asked for sources. May 2, 2019 at 16:03
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    Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. See in particular the focus on sources. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    May 3, 2019 at 3:09

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