Judaic dream interpretation

     From the Bible, we know that dream interpretation was important to the ancient Babylonians, Midianites and Hebrews, especially when it came to learning what the future had in store. I have mentioned the Midianites because of an account found in Judges 7:13 - 15, in which Gideon learned that God filled the hearts and minds of the Midianites with fear of the Israelites via their dreams. In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible is full of dream accounts in which God or angels reveal things to people in dreams (Hiestand, 1994, pp.13 - 15; Woods & Greenhouse, 1974, pp. 137 - 149). In Numbers 12:6, God announced to Aaron and Miriam that "If anyone among you is a prophet, I will make Myself known to him in a vision, I will speak to him in a dream." On the other hand, in Job 33:15 - 17, we find that God can also use dreams in other ways: "In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man." It may be of interest to note that in the Old Testament, it is men who are recorded as being given dreams and visions and not women (Van de Castle, 1994, p. 56).

     The Talmud, a compilation of Jewish wisdom that was begun during the Babylonian captivity and now runs to 63 volumes, has 217 references to dreams. Four chapters devoted to dreams appear in the first tract. There we learn that Talmudic scholars looked to dreams for ethical and religious guidance as well as prophecies (Woods & Greenhouse, 1974.. 13, p. 151). It is there, too, that the admonition of Rabbi Hisda is found who said, "An uninterpreted dream is like an unopened letter." Important is Rabbi Jonathan's observation that, "A man is shown in his dreams what he thinks in his heart" (Van de Castle, 1994, p. 34). It seems that in Hebrew, the word for dream is "Hala" which is related to the Indo-European root for healing.

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