Divine providence in relation to human beings in the last chapters of the guide of the perplexed by
For if the happiness of man and his pleasure in the times of prosperity be compared with the mishaps that befall him,--such as grief, acute pain, defects, paralysis of the limbs, fears, anxieties, and troubles,--it would seem as if the existence of man is a punishment and a great evil for him.
Amidst this gloom there appeared a brilliant luminary which sent forth rays of light and comfort: this was Moses Maimonides. But when you are engaged in the performance of religious duties, have your mind exclusively directed to what you are doing.
This is the meaning of the words: "And I will surely hide my face in that day, for all the evils which they shall have wrought" ibid. So much is certain, that his youth was beset with trouble and anxiety; the peaceful development of science and philosophy was disturbed by wars raging between Mohammedans and Christians, and also between the several Mohammedan sects. Of those that desire to go to the palace, some reach it, and go round about in search of the entrance gate; others have passed through the gate, and walk about in the ante-chamber; and others have succeeded in entering into the inner part of the palace, and being in the same room with the king in the royal palace. This being the case, we who believe in the Creation must admit that God could have created the Universe in a different manner as regards the causes and effects contained in it, and this would lead to the absurd conclusion that everything except man existed without any purpose, as the principal object, man, could have been brought into existence without the rest of the creation. Forced by the claims of the body, they seek also that which is necessary for the preservation of the body, "bread to eat and garment to clothe," and this is very little; but they seek nothing superfluous: with very slight exertion man can obtain it, so long as he is contented with that which is indispensable. Jonathan, the son of Uzziel, gives a similar explanation: Towards the place whither it is the will to go, they go; they do not turn when they go. Now consider how they clearly stated that the divided likeness of man over the throne does not represent God, who is above the whole chariot, but represents a part of the creation. They hold also that God takes notice of the falling of the leaf and the destruction of the ant, and that His Providence extends over all things. Whoever his teachers may have been, it is evident that he was well prepared by them for his future mission. The meaning of these verses has been explained by us. If you would like to help, please see Help:Proofread.
He then presents his own opinion. The evils that befall an are of three kinds 1 The first kind of evil is that which is caused to man by the circumstance that he is subject to genesis and destruction, or that he possesses a body. If men possessed wisdom, which stands in the same relation to the form of man as the sight to the eye, they would not cause any injury to themselves or to others: for the knowledge of truth removes hatred and quarrels, and prevents mutual injuries.
Maimonides and aristotle
The origin of the error is to be found in the circumstance that this ignorant man, and his party among the common people, judge the whole universe by examining one single person. You know how we condemn lowness of speech, and justly so, for speech is likewise peculiar to man and a boon which God granted to him that he may be distinguished from the rest of living creatures. Thus our Sages, as is well known, kept aloof from a banquet that was not part of a religious act, and pious men followed the example of R. Fifth Theory. I have also a reason and cause for calling our language the holy language--do not think it is exaggeration or error on my part, it is perfectly correct--the Hebrew language has no special name for the organ of generation in females or in males, nor for the act of generation itself, nor for semen, nor for secretion. This is followed by a brief exposition of Creation as outlined in Genesis and theories about the possible end of the world. There is undoubtedly no difference in this regard between one single person and a whole community. Eliphas himself, who uttered the above words, explains this [in the second speech] when he refers to it in one of his replies in other words, saying, "Behold, he putteth no trust in his holy ones; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight, how much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water" ibid. The same takes place when this second form is received. It was also read and commented on in Islamic circles, and remains in print in Arab countries.
We must not imagine that [in this way] we attain the highest perfection; on the contrary, we are then like those in reference to whom Scripture says, "Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins" Jer.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory," etc.
Moreh nevuchim english
It has the title Moreh-nebuchim. The halakah had, besides, been further developed since the time when the Talmud was compiled. The Commentary was written in Arabic, and was subsequently translated into Hebrew and into other languages. This explains why it appears that misfortunes occur to excellent people — they are all during times of preoccupation with things other than God when divine providence is cut off. The only way to learn it properly was if a student had enough knowledge and wisdom to be able to interpret their teacher's hints by themselves, in which case the teacher was allowed to teach them indirectly. The virtuous and wise, however, see and comprehend the wisdom of God displayed in the Universe. It may be suitable to them, but is not fit for those who are told, "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" Exod. You know that he who removes the obstacle of motion is to some extent the cause of the motion, e. It is distinctly stated in the Law, that all is done in p. But no distinct form is ascribed to it: neither that of man nor that of any other living being.
The cause of this arrangement is, that in study the first two must necessarily precede the third, and in fact they lead to it. When anything can only exist provided some other thing has previously existed, God has caused the latter to precede it; as, e.
Finally, the language and nature of the prophetic books of the Bible are described.
Guide for the perplexed chapter summaries
The codex contains besides the following treatises: Commentary of Maimonides on Abot; Comm. Joseph ha-levi the study of the Torah was interrupted, although he left a son and a nephew, both of whom had under his tuition become profound scholars. I will now begin to treat of some of the other subjects which I hope to elucidate in this treatise. Illness, poverty, and ignorance are evils for man: all these are privations of properties. It was originally published in a three volume edition with footnotes. It is now possible to address the problem with Maimonides exposition of divine providence mentioned above. Beyond this nothing should be believed. Note it. When our Sages figuratively call the knowledge of God united with intense love for Him a kiss, they follow the well-known poetical diction, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth" Song i. Golius in
This codex, written in Prov. By speaking of four Ofannim, after having mentioned only one Ofan, the prophet indicates that the "four faces" and the "four Ofannim" are identical. Following, however, his interpretation, he explains the terms erez, employed here as denoting the inner surface of the heavenly sphere, which may be considered as erez "earth" or "below"in relation to all that is above that surface.
In these two ways you will see the mercy of God toward His creatures, how He has provided that which is required, in proper proportions, and treated all individual beings of the same species with perfect equality.
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