Faith & Trust

Proof Of Prophecy: what counts as a fulfilled prophecy?

Imagine a person wants to verify his credentials as a prophet. To prove his status as a prophet, he “prophesies” that the young man he is pointing at will marry in the future, give birth to children, and one of his children will go abroad at some stage of his life. If these things happen, should we conclude that he is a genuine prophet and his prophecy came true?

Of course not. The three details of his “prophecy” are common and entirely predictable (marriage, children, trip abroad for whatever reason). “Prophesying” that all these will happen entails a small risk and one can arrive at them just by guessing.

However, if the person would say instead: “All the children of this family will unwillingly go into exile abroad. They will first go to Egypt. The exiled family members will arrive in Egypt not through the usual continental route, but by ship, and there they will sell their belongings at a loss. They will then be forced to leave Egypt not because the Egyptians expelled them but because of a new nation that doesn’t exist yet, and whose language is still unknown. All the siblings will leave for a different country in the world. Life in all these new places will be very difficult, and they will overwhelmingly yearn for their home. I promise and guarantee that the day will come that they will return from all the corners of the world! Each one will have his own individual story of how he managed to return home. Not only that, but when they leave the Land of  Israel, all the garden plants and flowerpots in their home will curl up and wither as if they are mourning the departure of the homeowners, and all the neighbors’ efforts to water them and revive them will end in failure. However, when the family members return from the corners of the earth to their home, the garden plants will amazingly bloom and all the flowerpots and flower boxes will blossom!”

In this case, if all the details occur exactly as predicted, we will relate to it completely different. It’s impossible to take a risk and guess so many details, especially when they are unpredictable and even illogical. 1. How can one know if all the children of that family will go abroad? 2. How can one know that they will all go to Egypt? 3. How can one know that they will arrive by sea and not another way? 4. How can one that their departure from Israel was coerced? 5. And by a new nation whose language is still unknown?? 6. How can one know that they will have to sell their belongings at a loss? 7. How can one know that they will be scattered among many countries? Maybe they will all settle together in their new place? 8. How can one know that they will return in the end? All of these developments are patently unpredictable! 9. What difference does it make to the plants who is taking care of them, and how does the one making this prediction know that they will “remain faithful” to the original homeowners?

In other words, a prediction for the future cannot be considered a prophecy — even if it is fulfilled — unless it includes unpredictable and illogical details which absolutely cannot be foreseen in advance by an intelligent guess. The more the details of the prophecy will be strange, absurd and paradoxical, the more their fulfillment proves the truth of the prophet and his prophecy.

One who peruses the Torah’s prophecies discovers to his surprise that the above-mentioned prediction  pales next to the complexity and “bizarreness” of the details which appear in many of these prophesies. Those powerful prophecies, which are spread out over many generations, include many absurd and paradoxical components which completely negate the likelihood or possibility that they would happen in a natural, normal process, and therefore could not be guessed in advance. Despite this, the details of these prophecies were completely fulfilled, step after step, generation after generation, as we will show below.

We will start with two mighty prophecies, from the most central and important in our people’s history.

According to the tradition that we received from our ancestors, the Torah was given over 3300 years ago before the Jewish people even entered the Land of Israel. Even the greatest heretics agree that the Torah was written not less than 2400 years ago, when the Greek translation of the Septuagint was made. Now let us peruse the Torah’s verses.

Two difficult prophecies dealing with the destruction of the Land of Israel and the people’s exile from their land appear in the Torah. One is in the Torah section of Bechukotai in the Book of Leviticus, and the second is in Ki Tavo which appears in the Book of Deuteronomy.

A superficial reading of these two prophecies gives us the feeling that they are similar, and we may even wonder why they were written twice. But one who studies the words that appear in these places in detail, notices dozens (!) of slight differences which create two completely different pictures. An historical review reveals, amazingly, that each one of them dealt with a completely different period. The first section matches perfectly — according to the testimony of historians — what occurred in the period of the First Temple’s destruction and the subsequent exile, while the second section is a perfect match to what occurred in the period of the Second Temple’s destruction, and the exile that followed it!

Adapted from “Journey to the Truth” by Rabbi Zamir Cohen

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