What is Rabbinic understanding of "the word of YHWH," a phrase first encountered in Hebrew Scripture, in Genesis 15:1 where " the word of YHWH came to Abram in a vision?" Rashi does not address it in this passage where it first appears.

I would have naturally understood this to mean that God spoke, especially because through out subsequent scripture there is a strong connection between this phrase and prophecy; but, it says "the word of YHWH came to Abraham a vision," which implies sight rather than hearing.


  • 1
    Can you edit to clarify what is unclear about the phrase that you seek further explanation?
    – Double AA
    Jul 28 '16 at 15:58
  • The speaking of, ... it is prophecy
    – kouty
    Jul 28 '16 at 16:05
  • Onkelos use this expression a lot מימרא דה
    – kouty
    Jul 28 '16 at 16:51
  • @kouty but not here -- he uses pitgama
    – rosends
    Jul 28 '16 at 17:33
  • @Danno it is not equivalent?
    – kouty
    Jul 28 '16 at 18:18

Seems like this has been asked before. Check out the answer given here! Seems like Rambam interprets these words as allegorical messages.

You're assuming that prophetic visions cannot have any audio component. Why should they have to be silent?

Also, the word 'devar' need not mean 'word'. For example, when it means 'event' earlier in this very verse.

  • I did not assume they could not have audio component. I assumed there must be a visual component in order to "appear." Thanks so much, both for the link and your last sentence; I was not aware that it could mean "event," which is consistent with the answer you linked to that says basically the word/message comes through a dream that is then interpreted. This has been most helpful.
    – user2411
    Jul 28 '16 at 19:54