900.13c Divine Foreknowledge (pps.136-138)

hard cover page 138

Our basic thrust with regard to foreknowledge would find parallels in Abraham ibn Daud’s Emunah Ramah537 and in Gersonides’ Milchamoth Hashem.538

The concept of Divine foreknowledge of particulars would seem in direct contradiction to numerous scriptural narratives. In numerous places Israel is told that if it hearkens to God’s word it will be blessed, and if it strays from God’s word it will suffer.539 What is the point of this conditional phraseology if there is Divine foreknowledge of the particulars of Israel’s future actions? One must go through logical somersaults, not only to reconcile human freedom with Divine foreknowledge, but in the attempt to reconcile the clear intent of scriptural text itself.

The “Hester minimalists” (who retain essentially complete Divine surveillance even during Hester) can more easily posit Divine foreknowledge, as foreknowledge does not directly contradict the implications of their minimalist definition of Hester, but face formidable and hitherto unassailable barriers to erecting a satisfactory theodicy. The “Hester maximalists” (who posit a complete blockage of Divine surveillance during Hester) are in an opposite situation, and face the manifold additional problems regarding Divine omniscience, judgment, and reward and punishment noted previously.

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537 See Emunah Ramh pt. I I, Basic Principle 6, chap. 2. According to the author, since man is free, and free to choose, those events which are the result of man’s freedom of choice are not, in fact, known beforehand by God. For, according to Ibn Daud, that would obviate the free choice.

538 Wars of the Lord, 111, chaps. 1-6, similarly argues that God does not know the contingent. “But He does not know which of the two possible alternatives will be actualized from the point of view that they are contingents. NOTES PART TWO The reason for this is that if it were so, there could be no contingency in this world at all.” (chapter 4) Note that Saadia, Abraham ibn Daud, and Gersonides would seem to be in disagreement with Akiva as cited in Mishnah Avoth 3:19: “Everything is foreseen, yer freedom of choice is given.”

539 See, for example, Leviticus 26 (in Parshat Bechokotai) and Deuteronomy 28 (in Parshat Ki-Tavo).

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