go through the passages of Scripture that point to the means by which
God has revealed his decrees to men.
14] That revelation occurred through images alone is evident from
1 Chronicles 21, where God manifested his anger toward David by means
of an angel holding a sword in his hand. So also toward Balaam.
although Maimonides and others maintain that this story happened in
sleep (and likewise all the narratives which tell of the appearance of angels,
like the one to Abraham at Minoah, when he was thinking of sacri¢cing his
son, etc.) and refuse to accept that anyone could have seen an angel with his
eyes open, they are surely talking nonsense. They were only concerned to
derive Aristotelian tri£es and some ¢gments of their own from Scripture,
than which, to my mind, nothing could be more ridiculous.
15] It was also by means of visions that were not real but derived from
the imagination of the prophet alone that God revealed to Joseph his
16] By visions and words God revealed
to Joshua that he would ¢ght
for them [i.e. the Hebrews]. For he showed him an angel with a sword,
like the leader of an army, and also revealed it to him in words and
Joshua heard it from the angel.
Visions were also the means by which
it was represented to Isaiah (as we are told in ch.
) that the providence of
God would desert his people, namely by his imagining the thrice holy God
on his lofty throne and the Israelites stained with the ¢lth of their sins and
immersed so to speak in a pile of manure and thus very distant from God.
By this he understood the miserable state of his people in the present, and
their future calamities were revealed to him in words as if pronounced by
God. I could give many more examples of this sort from the holy Scrip-
tures, if I did not think that everybody knows them well enough.
17] But it is all most plainly con¢rmed by the text of Numbers 12.6^7
which reads as follows: ‘If one of you shall be a prophet of God, I will
reveal myself to him in a vision’ (that is, through images and holy signs,
whereas the prophecy of Moses is said to be a vision without holy signs);
‘I will speak to him in dreams’ (that is, not in real words and a real voice).
‘But that is not how’ (I reveal myself ) ‘to Moses; I speak with him face
to face and not in riddles, and he sees the image of God’. That is, in see-
ing me he speaks with me as a friend, not as one who is terri¢ed, as is the
case at Exodus
Thus there is no doubt that the rest of the pro-
phets did not hear a real voice, and this is still more clearly con¢rmed by
34.10, where it is said,‘and there has not been’ (literally,
‘arisen’) ‘a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom God knew face to face’,
which has to mean,‘by voice alone’, for not even Moses ever saw the face
of God (Exodus, ch.
18] These are the only means I ¢nd in the holy Scriptures by which God
communicated with men, and therefore, as we showed above, we should not
invent or admit any other method. Although we clearly understand that God
can communicate with men directly (for he communicates his essence to our
minds without the use of any physical means), nevertheless, for a person to
know things which are not contained in
the ¢rst foundations of our knowl-
edge and cannot be deduced from them, his mind would necessarily have to
be vastly superior, far surpassing the human mind. I do not believe that
anyone has reached such a degree of perfection above others except Christ,
to whom the decrees of God which guide men to salvation were revealed not
by words or visions but directly; and that is why God revealed himself to the
Apostles through the mind of Christ, as he did, formerly, to Moses by means
of a heavenly voice. Therefore the voice of Christ may be called the voice of
God, like the voice which Moses heard. In this sense we may also say that the
wisdom of God, that is, the wisdom which is above human wisdom, took on
human nature in Christ, and that Christ was the way of salvation.
19] Here I must point out that I am not speaking at all of the things that
certain churches a⁄rm of Christ nor do I deny them; for I freely admit that
I do not understand them. What I have just said, I infer from Scripture.
Nowhere have I read that God appeared to Christ or spoke with him, but
that God was revealed to the Apostles through Christ, and that he is the
way of salvation, and ¢nally that the old Law was given through an angel
and not directly by God, etc. Therefore if Moses spoke with God face to
face as a man with his friend (that is, through the mediation of two bodies),
Christ communicated with God from mind to mind.
This may refer to
33.11 or 33.17.
20] We assert therefore that, apart from Christ, no one has received
revelations from God except by means of the imagination, namely by
means of words or visions, and therefore prophecy does not require a more
perfect mind but a more vivid imagination, as I shall show more clearly in
21] But now we must askwhat the holy Scriptures mean by the spirit of
God that inspired the prophets and what they mean when they say that the
prophets spoke by the spirit of God. In order to investigate this, we must
¢rst ask what is intended by the Hebrew word ruagh, which is usually
translated as ‘spirit’.
22] The word ruagh in its literal sense means ‘wind’, as noted, but it is
very often used to refer to many other things, all of them, however, derived
from ‘wind’. It is used:
1) to signify ‘breath’, as in Psalm 135.17, ‘also there is no spirit in their
2) ‘life’ or ‘breathing’, as in 1 Samuel 30.12,‘and spirit returned to him’, i.e.,
3) Hence it is taken for ‘courage’ and ‘strength’, as at Joshua 2.11,‘and there
was afterwards no spirit in any man’. Likewise Ezekiel
2.2,‘and spirit’ (or power)
‘came into me, which made me stand on my feet’.
4) Hence it is taken for ‘ability’ and ‘capacity’, as at Job 32.8,‘surely it is the
spirit in a man’, that is, knowledge is not to be sought only in old men, for I now
¢nd that it depends upon the individual’s particular ability and capacity.
27.18,‘a man in whom there is spirit’.
5) It can also denote a ‘sentiment’ of the mind, as at Numbers 14.24,‘since
there was another spirit in him’, i.e., a di¡erent ‘sentiment’, or another ‘mind’.
1.23,‘I will tell you my spirit’ (i.e.,‘my mind’). In this sense it
is used to signify ‘will’ or ‘decision’, ‘desire’ and ‘movement of the mind’, as at
1.12 ‘they went wherever there was a spirit’ (or ‘will’) ‘to go’. Likewise
30.1,‘and make a league but not of my spirit’, and 29.10,‘because God
poured over them the spirit’ (i.e., ‘desire’) ‘to sleep’. And Judges
their spirit’ (or ‘passion’) ‘was moderated’. Likewise Proverbs
18.33, ‘he who
masters his spirit (or ‘appetite’) surpasses him who captures a city’. Proverbs
25.28,‘the man who does not restrain his spirit’. And Isaiah 33.11,‘Your spirit
is a ¢re which consumes you’. Further, this word ruagh, in so far as it signi¢es
‘mind’, serves to express all the passions of the mind and even its talents; for
example, ‘a lofty spirit’ serves to denote pride, ‘a lowly spirit’ humility, ‘an evil