Is there a difference between man’s experience of God and prophecy? If not, at what point does awareness of the divine become prophecy? If experience of the divine yields some form of knowledge, what then is the difference between the religious sage and the prophet? These questions and many others related to them occupied the minds of medieval Jewish philosophers for several centuries and their answers represent some of the most original, systematic thinking of the period. It will be the theses of this paper that, for Maimonides: (1) the phenomena of prophecy fall within that which the modern world can rightly call “intellectualist mysticism”; (2) that the phenomena of providence, cognition, and piety also fall within the definition of “intellectualist mysticism”; (3) that the prophetic experience, unlike the mystical experience, had special socio-political functions; and (4) that in both the intellectual-mystical and the socio-political conceptualizations, the prophecy of Moses was superior and unique.

“Intellectualist Mysticism”

            The concept of “intellectualist Mysticism” has been conspicuously missing from the analysis of Jewish medieval philosophy. The leading authorities in Jewish mysticism and in Jewish philosophy, with the exception of G. Vajda, have not discussed this category for reasons which have not yet been fully analyzed.[2] In Islamic scholarship, however, the concept is not at all uncommon and the term itself may originate with I. Madkour in 1934.[3] Briefly, the reasoning behind the concept of “intellectualist mysticism” is as follows: On the one hand, the experience of the divine is a function of philosophic, intellectualist preparation and such experience yields philosophic, intellectualist knowledge. On the other hand, the experience of the divine is described, by the same thinkers, as a “contact”/”conjunction” with the divine mind (Arabic, ’ittisāl) and such metaphors as “enlightenment,” “illumination,” etc. are used.[4] This type of experience of the divine, however, is to be set off from the sufi type, the latter being an experience of “identification” with the Divine (Arabic, ’ittihād) and deriving from a different praxis. Thus al-Junayd is reputed to have said: “We have not acquired [our] Sufism by talking and being talked to but by hunger, by the abandonment of the world, by the cessation of habits and desires, by wandering, by separation from friends, and by the renouncing both that which is known and that which is not known.”[5] “Intellectualist mysticism,” then, as a concept, predicates the intellectualism of the realm of the divine, the intellectual capacity of humanity, and the possibility of contact and communication between these two similar, intellectualist, elements. Some of these intellectualist mystics sought to bolster their position by interpreting the neoplatonic theory of the ascent of the soul as the acquisition of intellectualist virtues and the experience of intellectualist illumination.[6] 

            To be fully understood, Maimonides must be viewed in the light of this concept of intellectualist mysticism, and there are several types of evidence which justify such a view. The first type of evidence comes from the use of such technical terms as wahy, nabī/nubuwwa, and ’ittisal/wusla with related forms. Maimonides uses the term wahy for the entire range of inspirational activity.[7] He uses it for Abraham, who achieved the highest degree of prophecy.[8] He uses it for the second degree of prophecy, that is, for those whom one can call “prophets” only generally speaking.[9] He uses it for the revelation on Mt. Sinai as well as for other “descents” of God.[10] He even uses it of himself, claiming that his interpretation of the Book of Job came to him “by something resembling wahy” while indicating that he lacks such a source for the interpretation of the first chapter of Ezekiel and for the interpretation of the metaphors of the resurrection.[11] In each of these contexts, wahy also has very clear intellectualist connotations. Thus, Abraham, with his wahy, “preached to men by speculation and learning” and “taught men and explained to them with speculative proofs…”[12] The people of the second degree of prophecy “become rational and speak…”[13] Even the “descents” of God are related to a communication of knowledge: “He wills, may He be exalted, what He wills—the bringing of knowledge from Him and the emanation of wahy for some of us.”[14] Even of himself, Maimonides claims that “the divine wahy did not teach me…”[15]

            Similarly, the word nabī/nubuwwa, when not used in its socio-political sense (see below) but when used in an experiential sense, is used to describe those who have “true prophetic dreams.” These are dreams which have describable content which is, in turn, confirmed by, and through, wahy, the experience of inspiration-prophecy.[16] Also, the “prophetic vision” (mar’eh ha-nevū’ā), which is the highest type of prophecy, is described as containing both a mystical “contact” and a cognitive communication: “In the prophetic vision, only metaphors or intellectual contacts which communicate learned things similar to that which is derived from speculation are perceived.”[17]

            The intellectualist-mystical nature of Maimonides’ views is most clearly seen in his use of the root wsl, for this is the root that was used, in his milieu, to establish the connectedness of the realms of man and the divine. Thus, Maimonides, in speaking of wahy, talks of it as ’isāl al-`ilm, “the communication of knowledge.”[18] He uses the phrase wusūl al-nubuwwa, “the arrival of prophecy.”[19] He speaks of the divine intellect as muttasil, “connected” with the intellect of man.[20] He even uses the very noun ’ittisāl, “the connection/contact/conjunction” of the intellects of man and God to describe the higher levels of prophecy.[21] Lest there be any doubt that intellectual contact is meant, he clearly labels such prophecy as ’ittisālāt `aqliyya, “intellectual contacts which communicate learned things similar to that which is derived from speculation,” and Maimonides applies to this contact the verse “In a vision I make Myself known to him,” using the Hebrew root yd`, “knowing” (Nu. 12:8).[22]

Even the Arabic word ittihād, “union”/”identification,” which, as we have seen, had overtones of Sufi mysticism, was co-opted by Maimonides. Thus, in speaking of Moses and the Patriarchs, he says: “A result of the union of their intellects by the perception of Him…” and “the union with God, I mean the perception and the love of Him.”[23]

This philological evidence for the intimate connection between the experience of God and the communication of some intellectual knowledge is supported by Maimonides’ presentation of the themes of prophecy, providence, and cognition, as well as by his description of that which constitutes true piety.

Considering the themes of prophecy, we note that, for Maimonides, prophecy is an intellectualist phenomenon. It requires intellectual (and moral) preparation.[24] It is an emanation from the divine mind to the intellect (and then to the imagination) of the prophet.[25] At the same time, prophecy is an experience which transforms the prophet:

A person who is replete with all these virtues and whole in body, when he enters the [mystical] Garden [Heb., pardes] and continues [to meditate] on these remote

and great themes; if his mind be prepared to perceive and to understand; if he  sanctify himself by continually withdrawing from the ways of the masses who walk in the darkness of the times; if he continually urge himself and teach himself to have no thought for any useless thing nor for any of the vanities and cunning wisdom of the times; rather [he keeps] his mind always turned upward, bound under the Throne, [seeking] to understand the holy and pure forms and contemplating the wisdom of God—all of it, from the First Form to the naval of the Earth; and when he has gotten knowledge from them [i.e., the forms and other existent beings] of God’s greatness; then, immediately, the Holy Spirit descends upon him. And when the Holy Spirit rests upon him, his soul mixes [into] the level of the angels called ’ishīm and he becomes another person, understanding in his mind that he is no longer as he was; rather that he has surpassed the level of other men who are sages as it is said of Saul, “You prophesied with them and became another person” [I Sam. 10:6].[26]     

            Considering the themes of providence and cognition, we noted that, for Maimonides, these too are phenomena with intellectual, and with experiential, content. Thus, for Maimonides, the intensity of the emanation of divine providence (al-`ināya) varies in direct proportion to the intellectual capacities and development of man.[27] At the same time, receiving providence is also some kind of experience. Thus, he writes--and note the use of the root wsl, the intellectualist-mystical connotations of which have already been pointed out: “For anyway who has had any thing of this emanation contact him (’ittasala bihi shai) will be reached (yasiluhu) by providence to the extent to which the intellect reaches him (yasiluhu).”[28]

            Much the same balance of intellect and experience can be seen in Maimonides’ epistemology, although that subject is a very complex problem. Without going into the details of the process of cognition, it seems reasonable to state that this process is one of the corresponding evidences. The evidence of these senses is abstracted[29] and compared with abstract ideas which are already in the mind.[30] If the correspondence is complete, truth or knowledge or intellect in actu is established.[31] These abstract ideas that are already in the mind, however, are not “innate” but are emanated to the human intellect from the divine intellect (that is, the Agent Intelligence).[32] It follows from this epistemology that man’s cognition of the mind of God (’idrāk al-`aql al-fa``al)[33] also varies in direct proportion to his intellectual capacities and development. At the same time, receiving such an emanation and attaining to true knowledge is also an experience. This is most clearly seen in Maimonides’ views on the nature of true piety to which we now turn. 

            What was the exact nature of the experience of cognition or providence? What was it like to be the recipient of the divine emanation, to attain to true knowledge? We do not know exactly; Maimonides, as a civilized and religious man, was appropriately reticent on these subjects. But, in his description of the nature of true piety, Maimonides does give us some indications for there he brings together the themes of providence, cognition, and religiosity. There intellect and experience join. In the description of true piety, the intellectualist-mystical theme is most clearly enunciated. The text of the Guide, 3:51, is quite clear:

This chapter that we bring now does not include additional matter over and above what is comprised in the other chapters of this Treatise. It is only a kind of a conclusion, at the same time explaining the worship [al-`ibāda] as practiced by one who has apprehended the true realities peculiar only to Him after he has obtained an apprehension of what He is; and it also guides him toward achieving this worship, which is the end of man, and [it] makes known to him how providence watches over him in this habitation until he is brought over to the bundle of life [the World-to-Come].[34]

There follows the parable of the palace of the Sultan with the men of learning being those in the inner courts.

There are those who set their thought to work[35] after having attained perfection in the divine science, [who] turn wholly toward God [wa-māla bi-jumlatihi nahwa Allah], may be cherished and held sublime, [who] renounce what is other than He, and direct all the acts of their intellect toward an examination of the beings with a view to drawing from them proof with regard to Him, so as to know His governance of them in whatever way it is possible; these people are those who are Present  in the ruler’s council. This is the rank of the prophets.

The various degrees of prophecy have already been discussed by us. Let us now return to the subject of this chapter, which is to confirm men in the intention to set their thought to work on God alone after they have achieved knowledge of Him, as we have explained. This is the worship peculiar to those who have apprehended the true realities; the more they think of Him and of being with Him [al-maqām `indahu], the more their worship increases.[36]

There follows a reference to those who, among other things, frequently “mention God” [yukaththiru dhikrahu] as being far from the palace.

This kind of worship ought only to be engaged in after intellectual conception has been achieved. If, however, you have apprehended God and His acts in accordance with what is required by the intellect, you should afterwards engage in totally devoting yourself to Him [ta’khudh fi al-’inqitā` ’ilayhi], endeavor to come closer to Him [wa-tas`i nahwa qurbihi], and strengthen the bond [al-wusla] between you and Him—that is, the intellect. Thus it says: “Unto you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord,” and so on [Dt. 4:35]; and it says: “Know this day, and lay it to your heart,” and so on [Dt. 4:39]; and it says: “Know that the Lord He is God” [Ps. 100:3]. The Torah has made it clear that this ultimate worship to which we have drawn attention in this chapter can only be engaged in after apprehension has been achieved; it says: “To love the Lord your God, and to worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul” [Dt. 11:13]. Now we have made it clear several times that love is proportionate to apprehension.[37] After love [’ahāvā/al-mahabba] comes this worship [`avōdā/al-`ibāda] to which attention has also been drawn by [the Sages], may their memory be blessed, who said: “this is the worship in the heart [`avōdā she-ba-lēv].” In my opinion it consists in setting thought to work on the first intelligible[38] and in devoting oneself exclusively to this [wal-’infirād li-dhālika] as far as this is within one’s capacity. Therefore you will find that David exhorted Solomon and fortified him in these two things. I mean [in] his endeavor to apprehend Him and [in] his endeavor to worship Him after apprehension has been achieved. He said: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and worship Him,” and so on [I Ch. 28:9]. Thus it is clear that after apprehension, total devotion to Him [al-’inqitā` ’ilayhi] and the employment of intellectual thought in constant passion for Him [fī `ishqihi] should be aimed at. Mostly this is achieved in solitude and isolation [bil-khilwa wal-’infirād]. Hence every excellent man stays frequently in solitude and does not meet anyone unless it is necessary.[39]

Maimonides, then, outlines a daily schedule for the devotee and concludes:

Thus I have provided you with many and long stretches of time in which you can think all that needs thinking regarding property, the governance of the household, and the welfare of the body. On the other hand, while performing the actions imposed by the Law, you should occupy your thought only with what you are doing, just as we have explained. When, however, you are alone with yourself [fī waqt khilāwatika bi-nafsika] and no one else is there and while you lie awake upon your bed, you should take great care during these precious times not to set your thought to work on anything other than that intellectual worship consisting in nearness to God and being in His presence [al-`ibāda al-`aqliyya wa-hiya al-qurb min Allah wal-muthūl bayna yadayhi] in that true reality that I have made known to you and not by way of affections of the imagination. In my opinion this end can be achieved by those of the men of knowledge who have rendered their souls worthy of it by training of this kind.[40] 

Later in the chapter, Maimonides introduces the term joy [al-ghabta] and even goes so far as to define man’s passion for God [al-`ishq]:[41]

It is as if [the psalm] said that this individual is protected because he hath known me and then passionately loved Me [limā `arafanī wa-`ashiqanī]. You know the difference between the terms “one who loves [’ōhēb]” and “one who loves passionately [hōshēq]”; for an excess of love [mahabba], such that no thought remains that is directed toward a thing other than the beloved, is passionate love [`ishq].[42]

Connecting this worship, or piety, with providence, Maimonides states explicitly:

The providence of God, may He be exalted, is constantly watching over those who have obtained this emanation, which is permitted to everyone who makes efforts with a view to obtaining it. If a man’s thought is free from distraction, if he apprehends Him, may He be exalted, in the right way and rejoices [wa-ghabtuhu] in what he apprehends, that individual can never be afflicted with evil of any kind. For he is with God and God is with him. When, however, he abandons Him, may He be exalted, and is thus separated from God and God separated from him, he becomes in consequence of this a target for every evil that may happen to befall him. For the thing that necessarily brings about providence and deliverance from the sea of chance consists in that intellectual emanation.[43]

Several things are quite clear: (1) The “worship of God” (al-`ibāda) is not the same as the “love of God” (al-mahabba). Rather, the “worship of God” follows the “love of God.” (2) The “love of God” is intellectual, being directly proportional to the “comprehension of God” (al-’idrāk). (3) The “worship of God,” on the other hand, is a turning of one’s thoughts to God, a devoting of oneself to God, and a passion for God which is best sought after in solitude. (4) A whole series of terms have appeared which are distinctly religious, or mystical, terms: turning wholly toward God (māla bi-jumlatihi nahwa Allah), being standing with God (al-maqām `indahu); total devotion to God (al-’inqitā` and al-’infirād ’ilayhi); God’s closeness (qurbihi), being in God’s Presence (bayna yadayhi), solitude (al-khalwa), the joy of experiencing God (al-ghabta), and the passion for God (al-`ishq). Note too that the root wsl recurs in the forms al-wusla/al-silla, “the bond” between God and man, here defined as the intellect.[44] To this list, must be added the term ’ittihād, “union,” used of Moses and the patriarchs (see below) as well as the metaphor of the “kiss of death,” used of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (see below).

            Where do these terms come from? From what milieu might they have been taken? They do not appear to have been taken from the “philosophers”: the Kalam (Saadia included), Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, or Al-Ghazzali.[45] Some of them occur in normal Arabic usage, and, hence, Maimonides may be giving special connotations to ordinary words by using them in this special way. On the other hand, the distinctly religious sense of these terms indicates that they may have been drawn, directly or indirectly, from some religious milieu. And, indeed, these terms do occur in the Sufi traditions.[46] Whatever the sources of these terms—and the question of Sufi influence in Maimonides is one which I hope to re-open elsewhere[47]—the evidence indicates quite conclusively that, for Maimonides, true piety, providence, and cognition were both intellectual and mystical. Indeed, one might say that, for Maimonides intellectuality passed into a “higher” intellectuality; thinking passed into a deep passion for God; contemplation passed into a meditative delivering of the self to God; and reflection passed into a being, or standing, before God. For Maimonides, as for his milieu, mind and religious experience were necessary complements of one another.

The Integration of These Phenomena

            Taking providence, cognition, and true piety on the one hand and prophecy on the other, we can see that there are certain elements common to all these phenomena: (1) All have as their divine parameter the pure, spiritual emanation from the divine intellect (al-faid al-’ilāhi min al-`aql al-fa``āl). (2) All have as their human parameter the human intellect as the receiver of that emanation (al-`aql al-’insānī). (3) All function proportionately to the development of man’s native intellectual capacities. And, (4) all involve a religious or mystical experience. That Maimonides intended all these phenomena—prophecy, providence, piety, and cognition—to be taken as having a common base is quite clearly indicated by him in a series of metaphors and typologies. Thus, in the famous metaphor of the lightning, the prophets are included, together with others, within the category of “the perfect ones” (al-kāmilīn).[48] And, in the metaphor of the palace of the Sultan, the prophets are ranked together with “the learned men” (al-`ulāmā’), “the jurists” (al-fuqāhā’), and “the people of opinions and [false] speculation” (’ahl ra’y wa-nazar).[49] In another typology, Maimonides, states:

The [emanation of] divine providence is not equal for all the individuals of the human species; rather providence is differentiated among them according to the differentiation of their human perfection. Because of this thought, it follows necessarily that His providence, may He be exalted, is upon the prophets in very great [measure]—according to their degrees in prophecy—and it is upon the virtuous (al-fudālā’) and the pious (al-salihīn) according to their virtue and their piety. For this power of the emanation of the divine intellect is that which renders the prophets articulate [rational], [and it is that] which guides the acts of the pious, and [it is that] which gives perfection to the knowledge of the virtuous.[50]

Similarly, the philosopher, the prophet, and the statesman are mentioned together following an introductory note on cognition, and both philosophy and prophecy are explicitly said to be functions of the same divine emanation, the one resulting in the impulse to teach and to compose books and the other resulting in the impulse to preach and to teach.[51] Furthermore, the hero and the one who “speaks with the holy spirit” are listed within the categories of prophecy[52] while the universality of prophecy is also admitted by Maimonides.[53]

            There is also a logical reason why the phenomena of prophecy, providence, piety, and cognition must be taken together: all three derive from the same source, the Agent Intelligence,[54] and all three function by means of the same phenomenon, emanation. Furthermore, this emanation derives from the chain of divine Intelligences, each of which, when reflecting upon its predecessor, emanates a pure Intelligence.[55] Thus, the entire chain of emanation is uniformly intellectual, uniformly spirit. Hence, all resulting phenomena-prophecy, providence, and cognition—must logically have a uniform intellectualist, spiritual base. Furthermore, humanity’s contact with this realm must be on its terms, of the same nature and quality as that realm, that is, intellectual and spiritual.

The Socio-Political Motif

            When, then, separated prophecy from the other forms of intellectualist mystical experience? What made the prophet different from the philosopher, the sage, and the saint? It was not the ability to perform acts which, in the West, are called “supernatural.” Maimonides recognized that certain people had exceptional powers, but he regarded these powers as natural, even though exceptional and, like Muslim thinkers, attached no prophetic value to such acts.[56] There are, rather, three criteria: First, the prophets used their imaginative faculties whereas the philosophers and teachers did not.[57] Second, the prophets, especially Moses and the Patriarchs, were able to sustain their awareness of God’s presence more continuously than the philosophers and teachers; that is, the prophets were able to strengthen their intellects—the nexus of the human and the divine—to a state of continuous connectedness.[58] And third, drawing upon Islamic political theory in which the prophet is separated from other ideal types by virtue of his being a “messenger,” that is, by virtue of his having a divinely ordained socio-political function,[59] Maimonides set forth two types of prophet: the prophet who is the legislator and the prophet who argues, preaches, and teaches the truth of the law of the legislator-prophet. The role of the legislator-prophet is clearly assigned to Moses, and Maimonides applied to him the Hebrew word mehōqēq, “legislator” [Nu. 21:13].[60] The role of the preaching-prophets is that of the “messengers” sent by God who exhort the people to observe the law which Moses had given.[61] Were such a prophet to urge the repeal or the violation of the law of Moses, even if he were to do many astounding miracles, he would be a false prophet subject to the death penalty.[62] A derivative within the category of the preaching-prophet is the pre-Mosaic preacher-prophet, for example, Abraham, who preached the same truths as Moses, used his imaginative faculties to the full and could sustain the awareness of the Presence of God continuously, but who did not legislate and did not claim a divine mission.[63] This is not to say that the philosophers, sages, teachers, and saints have no socio-political function. Even politicians have a socio-political function. Rather these ideal types have the important socio-political function of teaching the sciences, of writing books, and governing humanity. However, neither sage nor politician has a divine ordination for his role. They are not “sent” and are not “messengers” or “prophets.”[64]

            Thus mixture of piety and politics, of religious awareness and socio-political mission, may sound strange to modern ears but it is basic to Islam and hence to medieval Jewish thought. Thus, as early as Ja`far Sādiq (d. 765), the sixth Imam of Shi`ite Islam, the following experiential categories of prophecy were established: (1) the nabī who receives signs and inspiration; (2) the nabī who hears an angel but only in a dream and never awake; and (3) the nabī who hears an angel but is awake.[65] The scheme here is one of increasing intensity of experience. A parallel set of socio-political categories was also developed by Ja`far Sādiq: (1) the nabī who does not have to transmit that which he receives; (2) the nabī mursal who has a mission which is to support and to teach a previous revelation; and (3) the nabī rasūl whose mission is to legislate. His prophecy is called nubuwat al-tashrī`, “legislative prophecy.” Significantly, in merging these two schema, Ja`far Sādiq regards the prophets who receive either signs and inspirations or dream revelations but who have no mission as ’awliyā’, “pious men” and calls them the “friends of God.” They are the initiates into Shi`ite Islam. The prophets who receive more intense communication (when awake) and who support, or actually legislate, however, he calls the true prophets.

Moses as Unique in Both Categories[66]

            What is the place of Moses in these two schema: the intellectual-mystical and the socio-political? To answer this question, one must remember that Maimonides was, above all, a rabbinic Jew and thus, for him, Moses is the central figure in Judaism. Moses is the scribe for God’s written Torah and the transmitter of God’s Oral Law. He is “the father of the Torah, the father of wisdom, and the father of the prophets.”[67] He is “Moses, our Rabbi,” the Jew par excellence.[68] Moses’ superiority, therefore, is one of the postulates of the system.

            Within the socio-political schema, Maimonides asserts Moses’ superiority by assigning only to him the terms mehōqēq, “legislator,” and risāla, “mission.” Thus, Abraham and the other prophets never claim to have been sent.[69] This assignation is made into a dogma and is included in the Principles of the Faith where we read clearly:

The Eighth Principle is that the Torah is from heaven: to wit, it [must] be believed that the whole of this Torah which is in our hands today is the Torah that was brought down to Moses, our Rabbi; that all of it is from the Almighty, I mean that it came to him in its entirely by the transmission which is called metaphorically “speech”; that no one knows the quality of that transmission except him to whom it was transmitted, peace be upon him; and, that it was dictated to him while he was of the rank of a scribe; and, that he wrote down all of it—its dates, its narratives, and its laws—and, for this, he called “the legislator” [Nu. 21:12].[70] 

In this sense, Moses is “the father of the Torah.”[71]

            Within the intellectualist-mystical scheme, Maimonides asserts the intellectual superiority of Moses very clearly; Maimonides teaches, as we have seen, that the intensity of the divine emanation varies in direct proportion to one’s natural intellectual (and moral and imaginative) endowment and preparation: the greater the perfection of one’s faculties, the greater the ability of the individual to receive the divine emanation. He, then, asserts that Moses was the most perfectly endowed and the most perfectly prepared of all men. Hence, he could receive the greatest intensity of the divine emanation.[72] Maimonides also teaches, as we have seen, that prophecy yields intellectual knowledge, and we would expect Moses’ knowledge to be superior to that of all others. And so it is: Moses, at his initiatory revelation at the Burning Bush, comprehended all the proofs for God’s existence.[73] The actual level attained here is not the point, for others could, and do, attain the level of knowing all, or almost all, the proofs for God’s existence. The point is that Moses grasps this at his initiatory prophetic experience. Later in his career, when Moses goes up on Mt. Sinai to plead for the people, he asks for a more intimate knowledge of God. In reply, God grants him comprehension of “all the beings of creation…their natures, their interrelatedness, and [the principles of] their governance in general and in detail…with a true and firm comprehension.”[74] In other words, Moses, at this later stage of his prophetic career, actually is shown and comprehends, the basic ordering principle(s) of the cosmos. In this, Moses is unlike all other men for no one else is accorded such vision. This too Maimonides formulates as a dogma in the Principles of the Faith:

The Seventh Principle is the prophecy of Moses, our Rabbi; to wit, it should be known that: Moses was the father of all prophets—of those who came before him and of those who came after him—all were beneath him in rank; and, that he was the chosen of God from among the entire species of humanity; and that he comprehended more of God, may He be exalted, than any man who ever existed or will exist ever comprehended or will comprehend…[75]    

In this sense, Moses is also the “father of wisdom,” which is defined as “the proving of the truth of the opinion of the Torah”[76] and which includes the maximum knowledge possible of the workings of the physical universe.

            Within the intellectualist-mystical scheme, Maimonides also asserts the mystical, or experiential, superiority of Moses: As noted above, the true “worship” of God, that is, true piety, involves not only a knowledge, or love, of God but also a “being,” or “standing,” with God and a “joy” in experiencing God. For most pious people, this awareness of the divine is a sometime thing, but, for Moses and the patriarchs, it is continuous. Thus Maimonides writes:

And there may be a human individual who, through his apprehension of the true realities and his joy [wal-ghabta] in what he has apprehended, achieves a state in which he talks with people and is occupied with his bodily necessities while his intellect is wholly turned toward Him [nahwahu], may He be exalted, so that in his heart he is always in His presence, may He be exalted [bayn yadayhi…dā’iman bi-qalbihi], while outwardly he is with people, in the sort of way described by the poetical parables that have been invented for these notions: “I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved that knocks,” [Song, 5:2] and so on. I do not say that this rank is that of all the prophets; but I do say that this is the rank of Moses, our Rabbi, of whom it is said: “And Moses alone shall come near unto the Lord; but they shall not come near” [Ex. 24:2]; and of whom it is said: “And he was there with the Lord” [Ex. 34:28]; and to whom it was said: “But as for you, stand here by Me” [Dt. 5:28]. All this according to what we have explained regarding the meaning of these verses. This was also the rank of the Patriarchs, the result of whose nearness to Him, may He be exalted, was that His name became known to the world through them: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…this is My name for ever” [Ex. 3:15]. Because of the union of their intellects through apprehension of Him [’ittihād `uqūlihim fī ’idrākihi], it came about that He made a lasting covenant with each of them…Now this is to my mind a proof that they performed these actions  with their limbs only, while their intellects were constantly in His presence, may He be exalted. It also seems to me that these four were in a permanent state of extreme perfection in the eyes of God, and that His providence watched over them continually even while they were engaged in increasing their fortune—I mean, while they tended their cattle, did agricultural work, and governed their household. [This] was necessarily brought about by the circumstance that in all these actions their goal was to come near to Him, may He be exalted; and how near! For the goal of their efforts during their life was to bring into being a religious community that would know and worship God: “For I have known him, to the end that he may command” [Gen. 18:19] and so on. Thus it has become clear to you that the goal of all their efforts was to spread the doctrine of the unity of the Name in the world and to guide people to love Him, may He be exalted. Therefore this rank befitted them, for these actions were pure, absolute worship [`ibāda mahda `azīma].[77]

Furthermore, as noted above, the “worship of God” involves also a devotion to, and passion for, God. For most pious people, this passion may be a bridge to death, but, for Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, it reached such a great intensity that they are said to have died by the “kiss of God.” The text reads:

The philosophers have already explained that the bodily faculties impede in youth the attainment of most of the moral virtues, and all the more that of pure thought, which is achieved through the perfection of the intelligibles that lead to passion for Him, may He be exalted. For it is impossible that it should be achieved while the bodily humors are in effervescence. Yet in the measure in which the faculties of the body are weakened and the fire of the desires is quenched, the intellect is strengthened, its lights achieve a wider extension, its apprehension is purified, and it rejoices in what it apprehends. The result is that when a perfect man is stricken with years and approaches death, this apprehension increases very powerfully, joy [al-ghabta] over this apprehension and the passion [wal-`ishq] for the object of apprehension become stronger, until the soul is separated from the body, at that moment, in this state of pleasure. Because of this the Sages have indicated with reference to the deaths of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam that the three of them died by a kiss…Their purpose was to indicate that the three of them died in the pleasure of this apprehension due to the intensity of the passion. In this dictum the Sages, may their memory be blessed, followed the generally accepted poetical way of expression that calls the apprehension that is achieved in a state of intense passion for Him, may He be exalted, a kiss, in accordance with the verse: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” [Song, 1:2] and so on. [The Sages], may their memory be blessed, mention the occurrence of this kind of death, which in true reality is salvation from death, only with regard to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. The other prophets and excellent men are beneath this degree; but it holds good for all of them that the apprehension of their intellects becomes stronger at the separation, just as it is said: “And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be behind you” [Is. 58:8].[78]

            By these two criteria—the ability to sustain the awareness of the presence of God and the intensity of one’s passion for God—Moses’ mystical superiority is asserted. Yet we note that he must share this mystical, or experiential, superiority with others: the continuous consciousness of the divine presence is common to the patriarchs and the death-producing intensity of the divine presence is common to Aaron and Miriam. What, according to Maimonides, would separate Moses’ experience completely, absolutely, from the experience of other pious people and prophets? In what way is Moses’ experience of God categorically different from that of everyone else (given that his knowledge of God is unique)? There are two ways in which Moses’ experience of the divine is absolutely unique and not just superior. First, Moses did not suffer any of the drawbacks or disabilities of prophecy. Maimonides points out, for example, that the prophecy of the other prophets was characterized by a trance, or sleep, during which the dream or vision was received; by a terror and a trembling of the body;[79] by the indirect or metaphoric nature of the communication to them;[80] and by the intermittent nature of their prophetic seizures,[81] the power of prophecy finally leaving them completely some time before their death.[82] Furthermore, these prophets could not summon God at will.[83] Moses, on the other hand, was conscious and without fear during his prophecies; the gift never left him, not even before death; and, he could summon God at will.[84] Second, and more important, Moses’ experience of the divine was direct, unmediated. Thus, on Mt. Sinai, when the people heard only an indistinct sound, Moses comprehended intelligible words.[85] And, while for other prophets, the divine emanation had to pass from their rational to their imaginative faculties, for Moses, the emanation remained in his rational faculty only. Moses, although possessing a perfected imagination (unlike the philosophers), did not use it.[86] Rather, he spoke to God “from between the two cherubs,” meaning: intellect to intellect, mind to mind.[87] This too, Maimonides formulated into a Principle of the Faith:

[Rather] he, peace be upon him, reached a state of exaltedness beyond humanity such that he perceived the level of sovereignty and became included in the level of the angels. There remained no veil which he did not pierce, no material hindrance burdened him, and no defect whether small or great mingled itself with him. The imaginative and sensible faculties in his perceptions were stripped from him, his desiderative faculty was still, and he remained [pure] intellect only. For this reason, they remarked of him that he discoursed with God without the intermediacy of an angel.[88]          

            In this sense, Moses is the “father of the prophets”[89] and is so far above them, experientially as well as socio-politically, that he is not even included in their ranks.[90]


            Maimonides’ views concerning the superiority of the prophecy of Moses must be viewed in the light of the intellectualist mysticism which was an integral part of Maimonides’ world-view. In this world-view, the intellectualist character of the divine and human realms, together with the existence of a “contact” between these realms, is posited. It follows from this, that the experience of the divine requires intellectualist knowledge. And, conversely, that true intellectualist activity results in an experience, or awareness, of the divine which can properly be called “mystical.” Within this world-view, Maimonides expounded his views on cognition, providence, true piety, and also on prophecy, this last phenomenon distinguishing itself from others primarily by its socio-political implications of “messenger-ship.” Within the parameters of these phenomena, Maimonides asserts the superiority of Moses: socio-politically, Moses is the only “messenger.” Intellectually, he is the best endowed, best informed, and most perfected of men. Experientially, he attains the highest degrees of piety—those of continuous consciousness of the divine and the kiss of death. And, he attains an unparalleled degree of prophecy—that of direct, unmediated, purely intellectual experience of the divine.


[1] This essay first appeared in Studies in Medieval Culture, 10 (1977) 51-68 and was reprinted in Approaches to the Study of Medieval Judaism, ed. D. Blumenthal (Chico, Scholars Press: 1984) 27-52 and Philosophic Mysticism:  Essays in Rational Religion, chapter 3. Ramat Gan: University Press: 2006.

[2] The concept of intellectualist mysticism does not appear in the writings of Guttmann, Wolfson, Pines, Atlas; nor in the various works of Scholem. The connection between philosophy and mysticism in general has been pointed to by A. Altmann in his Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul: 1969); by A. J. Heschel, “Inspiration in the Middle Ages” [Hebrew] in Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (New York, Jewish Theological Seminary: 1950), 175-208; and by L. Jacobs in his Hasidic Prayer (New York, Schocken: 1973). On Maimonides and mysticism, Altmann has written “Das Verhältnis Maimunis zur jüdischen Mystik,” (Monatschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judnetums, 80 [1936] 305-30) but he did not deal with the mysticism of Maimonides. Heschel’s article, “Did Maimonides Believe He Had Merited Prophecy?” (Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volume [New York, American Academy of Jewish Research: 1945] 159-88) adumbrates the issue. It has really fallen to Vajda to articulate the interrelationship of philosophy and mysticism in general and especially in Maimonides. See his Introduction á la pensée juive du moyen Čge (Paris, Vrin: 1946), esp. 140; Recherches sur la philosophie et la kabbale (Paris, Mouton: 1962); “La philosophie juive en Espagne,” (The Sephardi Heritage, ed. R. D. Barnett [London, Vallentine, Mitchell: 1971]) I:81-111), esp.  94; and, most recently, “Jewish Mysticism,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 10:183ff.

            The reason for this curious omission may lie in the image of Maimonides projected by the presuppositions of past scholars. Maimonides, for nineteenth century German Jewry, was the rationalist par excellence, a kind of pre-Kantian Kant. On the other hand, “mysticism” was medieval, the antithesis of the Enlightenment. As a result, the mysticism of Maimonides was quickly and deftly swept behind his rationalism, and his rationalism was quickly and deftly projected into a religious, eighteenth-century type of deism with Nature, Natural law, etc. as paramount. This paper will show that this projection of Maimonides is not accurate.   

[3] I. Madkour, La place d’Alfarabi dans l’école philosophique musulamane (Paris, Adrien-Maisonneuve: 1934) 186, 188, followed by L. Gardet, La pensée religieuse d’Avicenne (Paris, Vrin: 1951) 160, 184; and, more recently, M. Fakhry, “Three Varieties of Mysticism in Islam,” International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 2 (1971) 193-207. 

[4] For al-Farabi, see Madkour, at the index. For Ibn Sina, see Gardet, at the index. For Ibn Bajjah, see Altmann, Studies, ch. 3. In Shi’ite Islam, intellectualist mysticism is such a thorough-going concept that prophecy is seen as the externalization, the rendering exoteric, of that which is, in the first place, an internal, mystical, esoteric experience. See H. Corbin, “De la philosophie prophétique en Islam ShĒ`ite,”  Eranos Jahrbuch, 32 (1962) 49-116.

[5] Madkour, 187.

[6] See Altmann, Studies, ch. 1 and esp. 104 for the parallel quotation from Plotinus’ Enneads.

[7] This is the springboard of Heschel’s analysis of Maimonides on prophecy.

[8] Guide. 2:39 (Joel, 268:15) with 2:45; 3:45 (Joel, 421:29); 1: 18 (Joel, 30:3). Citations to the Guide are to part: chapter, with parenthetical reference to the Judaeo-Arabic text of I. Joel, Dalalat al-Ha’irin (Jerusalem, Junovitch: 1929).

[9] Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 284: 6ff).

[10] Guide, 1:10 (Joel, 24: 17-25:4).

[11] Guide, 3:22 (Joel, 353:22); 3:Introduction (Joel, 297:27); Maqāla fī Tehiyyat ha-Mētīm, ed. J. Finkel (New York, AAJR: 1939), section 32, 22.

[12] Guide, 1:63 (Joel, 106:6-7); 2:39 (Joel, 268:17-18).

[13] Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 282:36).

[14] Arabic, ’isāl al-`ilm minhu wa-’ifādat wahy. Guide, 1:10 (Joel, 24:17

[15] Arabic, wahy...yu`allimuni. Guide, 3: Introduction (Joel, 197:27).

[16] Arabic, fa-dhālika al-wahy yunbīhi ’annahā nubuwwa. Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 284:5 ff.).

[17] Arabic, wa-’ammā fī mar’eh ha-nevū’āh fa-lā yudrak fīhi ’illā ’amthālāt au ’ittisālāt `aqliyya yuhassil ’umūran `ilmiyya shabh ’allatī tahsul `an al-nazar. Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 278:4-5).

[18] Guide, 1:10 (Joel, 24:17).

[19] Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 284:11).

[20] Guide, 1:1 (Joel, 15:18-19); 1:73 (136:18 ff.).

[21] Guide, 2:45 (Joel, 286:22).

[22] Ibid., (Joel, 287:4).

[23] Arabic, ’ittihād `uqūlihim bi-’idrākihi. Guide, 3:51 (Joel, 459:16-17); Arabic, al-’ittihād bil-lāh ’a`nī ’idrākuhu wa-mahabbuhu. Ibid. (Joel, 459:19).

[24] Guide, 2:32.

[25] Guide, 2:36.

[26] Mishne Torah (hereinafter: MT), Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:1. See ed. S. Lieberman (Jerusalem, Mossad Harav Kook: 1964) with notes, ad loc. See also, MT, “Hilkhot Teshuvah,” 3:8.

[27] Guide, 3:17, 18, 51 (end). See S. Munk, Le Guide des Egarés (Paris, A. Franck: 1856-1866), 3:135, n. 1 for the references to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics

[28] Guide, 3:17 (Joel, 342:25-6).

[29] This is, probably, done by the imaginative faculty. See Guide, 1:68, end; 1:73, Tenth Proposition, Warning Note (Joel, 146:10-20); and H. A. Wolfson, “Maimonides on the Internal Senses,” Jewish Quarterly Review, n.s., 25 (1935) 441-67, reprinted in Studies in the History of Religion and Philosophy, ed. I. Twersky and G. Williams (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press: 1973). 1:344-70.

[30] This is, probably, done by the rational faculty of the soul, also known as the hylic intellect and as the potential intellect. See Guide, 1:68; 2:37.

[31] Guide, 1:50: 1:68. See also Saadia, Emunot ve-De`ot, Introduction.

[32] Guide, 1:21 (Joel, 33:8-10); 1:62 (Joel, 104:21-2); 2:4 (Joel, 117:17-20); 2:37, beginning (Joel, 264:3-4). See also 1:68 and “Shemona Peraqim,” etc. and H. A. Wolfson, “Extradeical and Intradeical Interpretations of Platonic Ideas,” in Religious Philosophy: A Group of Essays (New York, Atheneum: 1965), 27-67.

[33] Guide, 1:62; 2:4.

[34] I have followed the translation of S. Pines with modifications. This first section is from Joel, 454:18-22; Pines, 618.

[35] Arabic, ’a`mala fikrahu, as a noun: ’i`mal al-fikra. The phrase has, I think, no special meditative or mystical connotations. It means “to set one’s thought to work on,” “to direct one’s intellectual attention to.”

[36] Joel, 456:5-9 and 16-19; Pines, 620.


[37] Arabic, ’anna al-mahabba `ala qadr al-’idrāk. The references are to 1:39 and 3:28.

[38] Arabic, al-ma`qūl al-’awal (Joel, 457:6). This has puzzled the translators and commentators. (For its usual use as “first notion,” see, for example, 3:19, at the beginning). Friedländer and Pines pass over it in silence; Efodi, Munk, and Qafih take it to refer to God Himself. Perhaps it should be taken together with the equally incomprehensible passage from “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:1, “…His [the prophet’s] mind (da`atō) is always turned upwards, bound under the throne, [seeking] to understand the holy and pure forms and contemplating the wisdom of God—all of it, from the First Form (mi-sūrāh rīshōnāh) to the navel of the Earth.” Furthermore, Guide, 1:37 makes clear that no man can perceive the upper nine Intelligences but that the “essence of form and matter” (dahāt al-sūra wal-mādda) can be perceived. But, what is the “First Intellected Being”? What is the “First Form”? What is the “throne” exactly? And what is the “essence of form and matter”? On the ladder from heaven to earth, see Altmann, Studies, esp.  57-59.

[39] Joel, 456:24-457:10, 12-15; Pines, 620-21.


[40] Joel, 458:26-459:5; Pines, 623.

[41] Joel, 462:15-17; Pines, 627.

[42] In the Mishne Torah, Maimonides is much more restrained. He deals with the love of God as ’ahāvā only, in several places: “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” ch. 2 (especially, 2:2); ibid., 4:12-13; and “Hilkhot Teshuva,” ch. 10 (especially, 10:3 where Maimonides comes closest to defining `ishq/hēsheq)—trans. from I. Twersky, Maimonides Reader,  84:

What is the love of God that is befitting? It is to love the Eternal with a great and exceeding love, so strong that one’s soul shall be knit up with the love of God, and one should be continually enraptured by it., like a love-sick individual, whose mind is at no time free from his passion for a particular woman, the thought of her filling his heart at all times, when sitting down or rising up, when he is eating or drinking. Even intenser should be the love of God in the hearts of those who love Him. And this love should continually possess them, even as He Commanded us in the phrase, “with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 6:5). This, Solomon expressed allegorically in the sentence, “for I am sick with love” (Song of Songs 2:5). The entire Song of Songs is indeed an allegory descriptive of this love.

[43] Joel, 461:3-10; Pines, 625-26.


[44] Arabic, al-wusla: Guide, 3:51 (Joel, 456:26); Ibid. (Joel, 457:15 ff.). Arabic, al-silla: Guide, 3:52 (Joel, 463:26).

[45] The indexes of the major edited works of these thinkers as well as the indexes of the major works about these thinkers do not yield this vocabulary though, here and there, a parallel usage can be found, Similarly, the major Arabic dictionaries list these words but without the special ambiance of the Guide.

[46] The following terms are listed, for example, in G. C. Anawati and L. Gardet, Mystique Musulmane (Paris, Vrin: 1968): al-maqām, ’ittihād, al-’infirād, khalwa, wisāl. See also L. Massignon, Essai sur les origines…2nd ed. (Paris, Vrin: 1968). Such terms, however, as `ishq, qurb, `ilm and `aql occur both in sufi and in “philosophic” authors, for example, Ibn Sina.  

[47] In my planned article, “Traces of Sufism in Maimonides,” I shall assemble the evidence systematically and also deal with the Sufi interpretation of Maimonides by others. I do not believe that “Maimonides was a sufi” for the gnosis, praxis, and general world-view of sufism are not strongly present in his work. Nonetheless, there are definite traces which others could, and did, take to be his esoteric truth.

[48] Guide, 1: Introduction (Joel, 3:24-4:12). This term, too, had Sufi overtones. See I. Shah, The Sufis (New York, Doubleday and Co.: 1964/1971), passim.

[49] Guide, 3:51, beginning.

[50] Guide, 3:18 (Joel, 343:17-23).

[51] Guide, 2:37.

[52] Guide, 2:45.

[53] See Guide, 2:41, 42, 45 on Balaam. This universality of prophecy became a Principle of the Faith (the Sixth) and it is different from the doctrines of the superiority of Moses’ prophecy (the Seventh Principle), the validity of the Written and Oral revelations (the Eighth Principle) and their inabrogability (the Ninth Principle). The Sixth Principle reads (translation by me from the Arabic in Comm., 114):

The Sixth Principle is [the belief in] prophecy; to wit, it should be known that, within the species of humanity, there are individuals who have a greatly superior disposition and a great measure of perfection. And, if their souls are prepared so that they receive the form of the intellect, then, that human intellect will unite with the Agent Intelligence which will cause a great emanation to flow to it. These people are prophets; this [process] is prophecy; and this is its content. 

This is also supported by a precise reading of the Mishne Torah where Maimonides distinguishes between the general phenomenon of prophecy-providence and the specifically Jewish form thereof.

            It is one of the Principles of the Faith to know that God grants prophecy to men…[If a man is properly prepared], immediately the holy spirit rests upon him…[“Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:1]. There are three kinds of ’epikōrōs: he who says there is no prophecy and there is no knowledge which reaches the heart of men from the Creator…[“Hilkhot Teshuvah,” 8:3].

[54] A very unfortunate mixture of terms has occurred here due to two factors: (1) the term `aql can be translated as “intelligence” or as “intellect”; and (2) the term `aql, used in the alfarabian-avicennian context of emanated beings, is usually rendered “Intelligence,” but, in the parallel neoplatonic context, it is usually rendered “Intellect.” Because of this, the tenth emanated being is variously referred to as “the Active Intellect,” “l’Intelligence actif,” “l’Intelligence agent,” “the Agent Intellect,” etc. Madkour properly remarks (83, n. 1) that, since the problem of the “intellect” is very different from the problem of the “Intelligences” (the former being an epistemological term and the latter a cosmological term) and, since, it is advisable to keep the terminology of the emanated beings uniform, the term used for the tenth emanated being should be “intelligence” and not “intellect.” To this, I must add that, since each sphere has an intelligence and an “intellect” (see Guide, 2:4 and Munk, 379, n. 95), Madjour’s terminology would seem much to be preferred. As to “active” vs. “agent,” the agency, or causal power, of the Tenth Intelligence is what is usually under discussion. And, so, I shall call this tenth emanated being the “Agent Intelligence,” or the “Tenth Intelligence.” 

[55] Guide, 2:4, 12. See Madkour, ch. 4, for a very good prose description.     

[56] Commentary to the Mishna [hereinafter: Commentary], “Introduction”; MT, “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7: 7 and ch. 8-10; Guide, 2:37, 38. Compare the problem of the karāmāt and mu`jizāt in Islam (for example, Gardet, 183-85; F. Rahman, Prophecy in Islam [London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd.: 1958], 45-51; etc.).

[57] Guide, 2:37. See Pines, lxxxix; Rahman, o cit., 37-38.

[58] Guide, 3:51. See below for the exact quotation.

[59] Rahman, o cit., 53-9; Madkour, 182 ff.

[60] See the Eighth Principle cited below; MT, “Hilkhot `Avodah Zarah,” ch. 1, at the end; Guide, 2: 63; 2: 39.

[61] For example, MT, “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:7.

[62] Ibid., 8:3.

[63] Guide, 1:63; 2:45.

[64] Guide, 2:37.

[65] Corbin, 70-71.

[66] Maimonides deals with the pre-eminence of the prophecy of Moses in several places: in the Commentary, “Introduction”; ibid., “Introduction to ‘Avot,” known as “Shemonah Peraqim”; ibid., “Introduction to ‘Sanhedrin,’ ch. 10” known as “Pereq Heleq”; in the MT, “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:6-7; ibid., “Hilkhot Teshuva,” 3:8; and in the Guide, es 2:33-35, 39, 45.

            Monographic studies on the place of Moses in Maimonides’ work include: M. Freudenthal, “Die beiden Moses,” Monatschrift für Geschichte und Wissenscaft der Juden, 64 (1920) 81-100; A. Reines, “Maimonides’ Concept of Mosaic Prophecy,” Hebrew Union College Annual, 40-41 (1969-70) 325-61; S. Atlas, “Moses in the Philosophy of Maimonides, Spinoza, and Solomon Maimon,” Hebrew Union College Annual, 25 (1954) 369-400.

[67] Guide, 3:54 (Joel, 467: 14-15) citing Talmud, “Hagigah,” 13a.

[68] On the centrality of Moses in Rabbinic Judaism and on his transformation into a “rabbi,” see J. Neusner, A History of the Jews in Babylonia, Studia Post-Biblica, ed.  A. H. DeBoer (Leiden, E. J. Brill: 1969-1970), IV, 283-86, especially 284, n. 3; V. 147-49: and at the Index. This interpretation is also available in Neusner’s There We Sat Down (New York, Abingdon Press: 1972), 73-74.

[69] Guide, 1:63 (Joel, 105:27-8); 2:39; MT, “Hilkhot ‘Avodah Zarah,” ch. 1, end.

[70] Translated in D. Blumenthal, The Commentary of Hoter ben Shelomo to the Thirteen Principles of Maimonides (Leiden, E. J. Brill: 1974 – hereinafter: Comm.), 144.

[71] Guide, 3:54 (Joel, 467:14-15).

[72] See the Seventh Principle, cited below; also, “Shemonah Peraqim,” ch. 7

[73] Guide, 1:63.

[74] Guide, 1:54 (Joel, 84:11-15). Moses asks to be shown God’s “ways” and is shown His “goodness.” He is denied seeing God’s “face,” or “glory”-the truth of His existence (Guide, 1:21, 37-8, 54; MT, “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 1:8, 10).

[75] Cited from Comm., 123. See also Guide, 1:54; 2: 23.

[76] Arabic, tashīh ’arā’ al-Torah. Guide, 3:54 (Joel, 467:14-15). Note that Moses is specifically called “the Master of those who know” (Arabic, sayyid al-`ālimīn): Guide, 1: 54 (Joel, 83:21); 3:12 (323:15).

[77] Guide, 3:51 (Joel, 459:5—460:3) following Pines, 623-24.


[78] Ibid., (Joel, 462:17—463:10) following Pines 627-28.

[79] Commentary, “Pereq Heleq,” the Seventh Principle; MT, “Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah,” 7:2.

[80] Commentary, ibid.; MT, ibid., 7:4.

[81] Commentary, ibid.; MT, ibid., 7:4.

[82] Guide, 2:45.

[83] See note 80.

[84] Commentary, ibid.; MT, ibid., 7:6; Guide, 2:45; etc.

[85] Arabic, wa-hum yasma`ūn al-saut al-`azīm, la tafsīl al-kalām…yasma` al-kalām wa-yuhkihi lahum, Guide, 2:33 (Joel, 256:13, 17):…bi-tafsīl ’ahruf masmū`a (ibid., 257:4).

[86] Guide, 2:37; “the Seventh Principle”; etc.

[87] Guide, 2:45, end, with Guide, 2:6 (Joel, 184:18).

[88] Cited from The Seventh Principle as translated in Comm., 123.

[89] Guide, 3:54 (Joel, 467:14-15). Note the parallel Arabic term “Master of the prophets” (sayyid al-nabīyyīn): Guide, 2:19 (Joel, 217:1); 2: 31 (Joel, 252:19); 3: 29 (Joel, 377:8); 3:43 (Joel, 418:3).

[90] Guide, 2:45, end.