Chapter 10י׳
1 א

כָּל נָבִיא שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד לָנוּ וְיֹאמַר שֶׁה' שְׁלָחוֹ אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹת כְּאֶחָד מֵאוֹתוֹת משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אוֹ כְּאוֹתוֹת אֵלִיָּהוּ וֶאֱלִישָׁע שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם שִׁנּוּי מִנְהָגוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם. אֶלָּא הָאוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר דְּבָרִים הָעֲתִידִים לִהְיוֹת בָּעוֹלָם וְיֵאָמְנוּ דְּבָרָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח כא) "וְכִי תֹאמַר בִּלְבָבֶךָ אֵיכָה נֵדַע אֶת הַדָּבָר" וְגוֹ'. לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא אָדָם הָרָאוּי לִנְבוּאָה בְּמַלְאֲכוֹת הַשֵּׁם וְלֹא יָבוֹא לְהוֹסִיף וְלֹא לִגְרֹעַ אֶלָּא לַעֲבֹד אֶת ה' בְּמִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה אֵין אוֹמְרִין לוֹ קְרַע לָנוּ הַיָּם אוֹ הַחֲיֵה מֵת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נַאֲמִין בְּךָ. אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים לוֹ אִם נָבִיא אַתָּה אֱמֹר דְּבָרִים הָעֲתִידִים לִהְיוֹת וְהוּא אוֹמֵר וְאָנוּ מְחַכִּים לִרְאוֹת הֲיָבוֹאוּ דְּבָרָיו אִם לֹא יָבוֹאוּ. וַאֲפִלּוּ נָפַל דָּבָר קָטָן בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר. וְאִם בָּאוּ דְּבָרָיו כֻּלָּן יִהְיֶה בְּעֵינֵינוּ נֶאֱמָן:

Every prophet who will arise among us and say that he is the messenger of God, is not obliged to deliver a token like unto one of the tokens of Moses our Master, or Elijah, or Elisha, wherein there is a change in the natural laws of the universe. But his token should be by foretelling things which are to come to pass in the world, and his words come true; as it is said: "And if thou wilt say in thy heart: 'How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?' When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut.18.21–22). Therefore, if a man, fit for prophecy, come as a messenger of the Name, and he comes not to add to nor diminish from but to advocate the service of God according to the commandments of the Torah, it is not said to him: "Divide the sea before us, or resurrect the dead, or perform like miracles, and then only shall we believe in thee". But it shall be said unto him: "If thou be a prophet, fortell things which are to come to pass". If he, indeed, foretells, we wait to see whether his words will come to pass or whether they will not come to pass, when, if even a minute detail be wanting it is certain that he is a false prophet. But if all of his words come to pass, he must be in our eyes trustworthy.

2 ב

וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ פְּעָמִים הַרְבֵּה. אִם נִמְצְאוּ דְּבָרָיו נֶאֱמָנִים כֻּלָּן הֲרֵי זֶה נְבִיא אֱמֶת. כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בִּשְׁמוּאֵל (שמואל א ג כ) "וַיֵּדַע כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל מִדָּן וְעַד בְּאֵר שָׁבַע כִּי נֶאֱמָן שְׁמוּאֵל לְנָבִיא לַה'":

The examination must be continued many times; if all of his words be found true, lo, this is a true prophet, as it is said of Samuel: "And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-Sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord" (I Sam. 3.20).

3 ג

וַהֲלֹא הַמְעוֹנְנִים וְהַקּוֹסְמִים אוֹמְרִים מַה שֶּׁעָתִיד לִהְיוֹת. וּמַה הֶפְרֵשׁ יֵשׁ בֵּין הַנָּבִיא וּבֵינָם. אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמְעוֹנְנִים וְהַקּוֹסְמִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִקְצָת דִּבְרֵיהֶם מִתְקַיְּמִין וּמִקְצָתָן אֵין מִתְקַיְּמִין. כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה מז יג) "יַעַמְדוּ נָא וְיוֹשִׁיעֻךְ הֹבְרֵי שָׁמַיִם הַחֹזִים בַּכּוֹכָבִים מוֹדִעִים לֶחֳדָשִׁים מֵאֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ עָלָיִךְ". מֵאֲשֶׁר וְלֹא כָּל אֲשֶׁר. וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא יִתְקַיֵּם מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּלוּם אֶלָּא יִטְעוּ בַּכּל כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה מד כה) "מֵפֵר אֹתוֹת בַּדִּים וְקֹסְמִים יְהוֹלֵל". אֲבָל הַנָּבִיא כָּל דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים ב י י) "כִּי לֹא יִפּל מִדְּבַר ה' אַרְצָה". וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ירמיה כג כח) "הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ חֲלוֹם יְסַפֵּר חֲלוֹם וַאֲשֶׁר דְּבָרִי אִתּוֹ יְדַבֵּר דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת מַה לַּתֶּבֶן אֶת הַבָּר נְאֻם ה'". כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁדִּבְרֵי הַקּוֹסְמִים וְהַחֲלוֹמוֹת כְּתֶבֶן שֶׁנִּתְעָרֵב בּוֹ מְעַט בַּר וּדְבַר ה' כְּבַר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ תֶּבֶן כְּלָל. וּבַדָּבָר הַזֶּה הַכָּתוּב הִבְטִיחַ וְאָמַר שֶׁאוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין הַמְעוֹנְנִים וְהַקּוֹסְמִים לָאֻמּוֹת וּמְכַזְּבִין הַנָּבִיא יוֹדִיעַ לָכֶם דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת וְאֵין אַתֶּם צְרִיכִין לִמְעוֹנֵן וְקוֹסֵם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ מַעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ בָּאֵשׁ" וְגוֹ' (דברים יח יד) "כִּי הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה" וְגוֹ'. וְאָמַר (דברים יח טו) "נָבִיא מִקִּרְבְּךָ מֵאַחֶיךָ" וְגוֹ'. הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁאֵין הַנָּבִיא עוֹמֵד לָנוּ אֶלָּא לְהוֹדִיעֵנוּ דְּבָרִים הָעֲתִידִים לִהְיוֹת בָּעוֹלָם מִשֹּׂבַע וְרָעָב מִלְחָמָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. וַאֲפִלּוּ צָרְכֵי יָחִיד מוֹדִיעַ לוֹ. כְּשָׁאוּל שֶׁאָבְדָה לוֹ אֲבֵדָה וְהָלַךְ לַנָּבִיא לְהוֹדִיעוֹ מְקוֹמָהּ. וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים הוּא שֶׁיֹּאמַר הַנָּבִיא לֹא שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה דָּת אַחֶרֶת אוֹ יוֹסִיף מִצְוָה אוֹ יִגְרַע:

Are not the necromancers and astrologists foretelling what is to come to pass, what, then, is the difference between a prophet and such as they? Forsooth, necromancers, astrologists and their like, some of their words are established and some of their words are not established, as the subject is spoken of: "Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from some of the things that shall come upon thee" (Is. 47.13); —of some of the things are spoken, but not of all of the things, because they are not capable to foretell all of the things. Moreover, it is possible, too, that none of their words be established, for they may entirely be misled, as the subject is spoken of: "That frustrateth the tokens of the imposters, and maketh diviners mad" (Ibid. 44.25). But as for the prophet, all of his words are established, as it is said: "Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord" (II Kings 10.10); again it is said: "the prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully, What hath the straw to do with the wheat? saith the Lord" (Jer. 23.28), meaning that the words of astrologers and dreamers are likened to straw wherein there was mixed a few grains of wheat, but the word of the Lord is like unto wheat wherein there is no straw at all. Herein the Verse gave assurance saying, that as for the things that the necromancers and astrologers foretell falsely to the nations, the prophet will inform you in true words, and you have no need for necromancer, or astrologer, or his like, as it is said: "There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost, or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer . . For these nations, that thou art to dispossess, hearken unto sooth-sayers, and unto diviners" (Deut. 18. 10. 11. 14); and it is then said: "A prophet will the Lord thy God raise up unto thee" (Ibid. 15). Herefrom you learn that the presence of a prophet among us is for no other purpose save that of foretelling things that are to come to pass in the world such as plenty, famine, war, peace and like matters. For, even of private matters he is informed. For instance, Saul when he sustained a loss he went to a prophet to inquire for its whereabouts.1I Samuel, 9.1-9. G. Similar matters to these the prophet may tell, not to create another religion, or add a commandment, or diminish.

4 ד

דִּבְרֵי הַפֻּרְעָנוּת שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר כְּגוֹן שֶׁיֹּאמַר פְּלוֹנִי יָמוּת אוֹ שָׁנָה פְּלוֹנִית רָעָב אוֹ מִלְחָמָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ אִם לֹא עָמְדוּ דְּבָרָיו אֵין בָּזֶה הַכְחָשָׁה לִנְבוּאָתוֹ. וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים הִנֵּה דִּבֵּר וְלֹא בָּא. שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב חֶסֶד וְנִחָם עַל הָרָעָה וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁעָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְנִסְלַח לָהֶם כְּאַנְשֵׁי נִינְוֵה. אוֹ שֶׁתָּלָה לָהֶם כְּחִזְקִיָּה. אֲבָל אִם הִבְטִיחַ עַל טוֹבָה וְאָמַר שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְלֹא בָּאָה הַטּוֹבָה שֶׁאָמַר בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר. שֶׁכָּל דְּבַר טוֹבָה שֶׁיִּגְזֹר הָאֵל אֲפִלּוּ עַל תְּנַאי אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר. וְלֹא מָצִינוּ שֶׁחָזַר בִּדְבַר טוֹבָה אֶלָּא בְּחֻרְבָּן רִאשׁוֹן כְּשֶׁהִבְטִיחַ לַצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּתוּ עִם הָרְשָׁעִים וְחָזַר בִּדְבָרָיו. וְזֶה מְפֹרָשׁ בְּמַסֶּכֶת שַׁבָּת. הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁבְּדִבְרֵי הַטּוֹבָה בִּלְבַד יִבָּחֵן הַנָּבִיא. הוּא שֶׁיִּרְמְיָהוּ אָמַר בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ לַחֲנַנְיָה בֶּן עַזּוּר כְּשֶׁהָיָה יִרְמְיָה מִתְנַבֵּא לְרָעָה וַחֲנַנְיָה לְטוֹבָה. אָמַר לוֹ לַחֲנַנְיָה אִם לֹא יַעַמְדוּ דְּבָרַי אֵין בָּזֶה רְאָיָה שֶׁאֲנִי נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר אֲבָל אִם לֹא יַעַמְדוּ דְּבָרֶיךָ יִוָּדַע שֶׁאַתָּה נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה כח ז) "אַךְ שְׁמַע נָא אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה" וְגוֹ' הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר שָׁלוֹם בְּבֹא דְּבַר הַנָּבִיא יִוָּדַע הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ ה' בֶּאֱמֶת:

Concerning a prophet's prediction of calamities, such one would die, or such year would be visited by famine, or war, or matters similar to these, even though his words be not established, it is not considered contradictory to his prophecy. It shall not be said: "Behold, he spoke and it did not come to pass!" For, the Holy One, blessed is He! is long-suffering and abundant in goodness, and repenteth Him of the evil, and it is possible that they repented and were forgiven, as did the inhabitants of Nineveh,2Jonah, 3. 5-8 G. or that their fate was postponed, as was with Hezekiah.3Isa. 38; 11 Kings, 20.6 G. But if he assured that good would come to pass, saying that it would be thus and such, but the good he promised did not come to pass, it is certain that he is a false prophet, for every good thing God decides upon, even though it be contingent, He doth not repent. And, we find no instance when He repented from a good thing save only at the destruction of the First Temple, when he assured the righteous that they would not die together with the wicked and retracted it, as it appears in Tractat Shabbat4Shabbat, 55a. Because the wickedness was great, and the righteous did not sufficiently rebuke the evildoers. See Shabbat, 119b. G.. Herefrom we learn that a prophet is tested solely by his prophecy concerning good tidings, which is in harmony with what Jeremiah said in his reply to Hananiah son of Azzur, when Jeremiah was prophesying evil tidings and Hananiah good, saying unto him: "If my words will not be established, it would yet not be evidence that I am a false prophet; but if thy words be not established it will be proclaimed that thou art a false prophet". For it is said: "Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people: The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied against many countries, and against many kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence; the prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him" (Jer. 28.7–9).

5 ה

נָבִיא שֶׁהֵעִיד לוֹ נָבִיא אַחֵר שֶׁהוּא נָבִיא הֲרֵי הוּא בְּחֶזְקַת נָבִיא וְאֵין זֶה הַשֵּׁנִי צָרִיךְ חֲקִירָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ הֵעִיד לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ וְהֶאֱמִינוּ בּוֹ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה אוֹת. וְכֵן לְדוֹרוֹת. נָבִיא שֶׁנּוֹדְעָה נְבוּאָתוֹ וְהֶאֱמִינוּ בִּדְבָרָיו פַּעַם אַחַר פַּעַם אוֹ שֶׁהֵעִיד לוֹ נָבִיא וְהָיָה הוֹלֵךְ בְּדַרְכֵי הַנְּבוּאָה אָסוּר לַחְשֹׁב אַחֲרָיו וּלְהַרְהֵר בִּנְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁמָּא אֵינָהּ אֱמֶת. וְאָסוּר לְנַסּוֹתוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי וְלֹא נִהְיֶה הוֹלְכִים וּמְנַסִּים לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ו טז) "לֹא תְנַסּוּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר נִסִּיתֶם בַּמַּסָּה" שֶׁאָמְרוּ (שמות יז ז) "הֲיֵשׁ ה' בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ אִם אָיִן". אֶלָּא מֵאַחַר שֶׁנּוֹדַע שֶׁזֶּה נָבִיא יַאֲמִינוּ וְיֵדְעוּ כִּי ה' בְּקִרְבָּם וְלֹא יְהַרְהֲרוּ וְלֹא יַחְשְׁבוּ אַחֲרָיו. כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל ב ה) "וְיָדְעוּ כִּי נָבִיא הָיָה בְתוֹכָם":

A prophet of whom another prophet testified that he is a prophet, behold, he is an established prophet and he needs no further test; for, behold, Moses our Master vouched for Joshua and all Israel believed in him before he ever delivered a token, so must it be throughout the generations. A prophet whose prophecy had already been proclaimed, and whose words were believed time after time, or if another prophet gave testimony concerning him, and he continued to follow the paths of prophecy, must not be looked upon with suspicious thoughts, or question the truth of his prophecy. And it is forbidden to test him more than necessary, or go on testing him forever for, it is said: "Ye shall not try the Lord your God, as ye tried Him in Massah" (Deut. 6.16), when they said: "Is the Lord among us, or not" (Ex. 17.7). But, since a prophet is proclaimed they should believe and know that God is among them, and not suspect nor whisper behind his back, as it is said concerning the subject: "Yet shall they know that there hath been a prophet among them" (Eze.2.5).