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How can a reader of the Prophets know that what he reads is authentic?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller


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Jews are in general very suspicious and argumentative people, as in the old saying: two Jews, three opinions; another version: two Jews, three arguments. No one would have managed to slip such a hoax by the Jewish people, such that everyone in the generation where the supposed hoax was perpetrated would accept these works as genuine and prophetic. Furthermore, the Prophets who wrote them were well known men and women. Their character and honesty were above reproach. If a later scribe would have written it and attributed it to the earlier Prophet, the plot would have been discovered instantly.

There were also a number of false prophets whose predictions did not come to pass. The events that the authentic Prophets spoke about did come to pass -- such as the destruction of the Temple and its rebuilding etc.

Furthermore, I would say that the burden of proof is upon those who wish to argue that they were written by later authors. Let’s look at a far more contemporary situation by way of example. Let’s say I wish to argue that the plays of William Shakespeare were written by someone else, not by Will himself. (There are in fact those who argue this—see Furthermore, many of the plots and themes of his plays were borrowed from earlier sources—see

The Prophets were well known men and women. Their character and honesty were above reproach. If a later scribe would have written it and attributed it to the earlier Prophet, the plot would have been discovered instantly
Now you, as one who understands appreciates the unique quality of Shakespeare’s plays, might tell me that I’m crazy. If I ask you to prove your belief –after all, were you a witness to his authorship? Was your father or grandfather? What will you answer? I wasn’t a witness, but there were plenty of people who were and who vouched for the authenticity of the works. Is this acceptable as a proof? If so, then it must be acceptable in our case as well.

If one does not accept this, that is his/her prerogative. However, the vast majority of Jews certainly did, and were willing to put their lives on the line for their beliefs. Would you be willing to put yours on the line that Shakespeare’s plays were really his? Probably not, because it does not mater to you that much. Jews were (and are) willing to give up their lives for our beliefs because they do matter to us. We regard them as the words of G-d. Would anyone who had doubts about that be willing to gives up their lives for a doubt?

In any event, belief in the words of the Prophets is the sixth of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith: “I believe with prefect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.” Jews accept this as an article of faith without requiring proof, and we are all the better for it.


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Posted by: Concerned Christian, Little Rock, AR, USA on Dec 31, 2005

G-d has only one standard for his prophets. 100% accuracy. That means that all the prophets listed in the Torah and the Prophets had a record that was 100%. Anything less would cause a person to be stoned to death. There was no middle ground.

Isiah, Amos, Malachi, Joel, Zephaniah and others were all included as prophets because they prophesised coming events and they happened! They also prophesied about the coming future that is yet to happen. Therefore, we must take heed to the prophets of old. And be careful when one proclaims himself to be a prophet. Only 100% accuracy!


Torah » The Bible » The Prophets
Philosophy » Prophecy

Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
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.