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Dreams in the Old Testament

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All in all there are about a dozen dreams in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament (of the dreams in the New Testament, five, in Matthew, pertain to divine guidance of the Holy Family; in Acts 2:17, Peter quotes Joel 3:1, and in Matt. 27:19, Pilate’s wife shares with her husband a frightening dream and tells him to spare Jesus). However, what exactly constitutes a dream may be hard to tell. The distinction between dream and vision is not always apparent.

Besides Jacob’s well-known dream of the ladder, we find the main elaboration on dreams in the book of Daniel, with Nebuchadnezzar’s two dreams, and particularly in Genesis, with Joseph’s dreams and interpretations.

The attitude towards dreams in the Bible is ambiguous. While Daniel and Joseph are celebrated dream interpreters, in other instances warnings are voiced against the deceit and falsehood of dreams. In Jeremiah, God ridicules and warns, “I have heard what the prophets said, who prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have...

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Correspondence to Erel Shalit .

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Shalit, E. (2014). Dreams in the Old Testament. In: Leeming, D.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer, Boston, MA.

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