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“I Shall Dwell in the Midst of Bnei Yisrael” – part II

What is the correlation between the intensity of the Divine Presence and the ability of people to prophesy? How does the dwelling of the Divine Presence cause an increase in prophecy?


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Adar I 21 5782
We started to explore last week the correlation between the intensity of the Divine Presence and the ability of people to prophesy. We also started looking at David’s escape from Shaul and to Shmuel in Rama (Shmuel I, 19), which we posited was done to check if Shmuel accepted the veracity of David’s prophecies about defeating the Plishtim, including Goliat, and building the Beit Hamikdash. We will continue now to see in the p’sukim how the dwelling of the Divine Presence causes an increase in prophecy.

When Shaul’s secret service told him that David was in Nayot in Rama, it says that "Shaul sent messengers to seize David, and he saw a band of prophets prophesizing and Shmuel was standing (nitzav) over them, and the spirit of Hashem was on Shaul’s messengers and they also prophesized" (ibid. 19:19).

First, when Shaul heard about David’s prophesying with Shmuel, he was aware of David’s prophecy about Goliat. After all, David had already relayed it to the troops and then repeated it to Shaul, in persuading Shaul to let him try to fight Goliat (see Shmuel I, 17:29-38, which is analyzed in the soon to be published Tzofnat Shmuel).

Regarding Shaul’s sending of his agents, it does not say that they saw the prophets prophesizing, but that he (presumably meaning Shaul himself) did. But how did Shaul see it if he remained at home and did not yet come himself? We can solve the problem with help from a parallel pasuk about Yaakov, which says: "Yaakov saw that there was shever (food) in Egypt" (Bereishit 42:1-2). There too, we can ask how Yaakov saw what was doing in Egypt if he was in Chevron, as he should only have been able to hear accounts. The midrash explains that from the time Yosef was abducted, Yaakov lost much of the clarity of his prophecy, and yet at that time he saw in prophecy that his sever (hope) was in Egypt (Bereishit Rabba 91:6). Thus, with the return to improved prophecy, Yaakov was able to see that he had special opportunities in Egypt.

The same thing, then, happened to Shaul. Once Shmuel and David started dealing prophetically with the matter of the building of the Beit Hamikdash, Shaul was able to see things prophetically that he had not been able to for a while, and his spirit improved. At the same time, Shmuel’s students (the band of prophets) also were privy to the wave of prophecy, and they too prophesied in a way they had not before, as the pasuk says. Even Shaul’s agents, who were not prophets or students of prophets, started prophesying once they approached David and Shmuel. Finally, when Shaul came himself, he prophesized fully before Shmuel, prompting people to say, "Hagam Shaul banevi’im?" (Is Shaul also a prophet?) This is something that he merited first, soon after he was anointed to be king (Shmuel I, 10:11-12), and now again when he was affected by the swelling of prophecy along with the Divine Presence.

May we merit seeing Hashem’s return to Zion and to "the honor of Hashem filled the Mishkan" (Shemot 40:35).

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