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Were there any non-Jewish prophets?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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The Torah actually tells us a story about Bilam, a non-Jewish prophet1.

Rashi, a foremost commentator on the Torah, explains2 that it would be unfair to expect people to live by G-dly standards without giving them the opportunity of prophecy.

The Talmud3 says there were actually seven non-Jewish prophets.

The non-Jewish prophet, although a prophet, is nonetheless not part of Judaism. He was given prophecies meant for non-Jews, and when G-d wanted to send a message to the Jews He sent it with a Jewish prophet. Additionally, it is important to reiterate the Torah’s warning4 that if a prophet comes to change the laws of the Torah he is a false prophet.

Footnotes

  • 1. Numbers 22
  • 2. Numbers 22:5
  • 3. Tractate Bava Basra 15b
  • 4. Deuteronomy 13:2-6

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.