discussing Moses request for the Jews
to go and celebrate a holiday
And the Jews shall listen to your voice;
and you,Moses, and the Jewish elders shall come, to the king of Egypt,
and you shall say to him, The Lord God of the Hebrews has accidented us;
and now let us plesae go away for a three daysí journey into the wilderness,
that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
This verse uses the strange underlined term, accidented,
which does not make sense here. Rashi clarifies this unusual
by cross-referencing another verse
presenting Bilam's attempt to achieve prophetic communication
to help Moab:
And Balaam said to Balak, Stand by your burnt offering, and I will go;
perhaps the Lord will accident me; and whatever he shows me I will tell you. And he went to a high place.
Hence the Rashi comment: To accident can mean (in
the appropriate context) to receive a prophecy.
Sermonic and Advanced Points:
Rashi describes but does not explain why: Why is
prophecy called accident. Insight is provided by the
revelation at the decalogue in Ex19,Ex20. There we see prophecy
compared to confrontation with fire. Prophecy very often opens
up dimensions of reality we were not aware of--it is su11en, abrupt
and confrontational. Hence the use of fire symbolizing a burning
revelation. The term accident also connotes something su11en,
abrupt and unexpected.
Rashi goes a step further. Comparing the language used for prophecy
in Lv01-01 vs. Nu23-03 Rashi comments: Jewish
prophecy is termed God calls while non-Jewish prophecy is
termed God accidents. The non-Jew sees the prophetic
content as shocking and abrupt while the Jew is prepared for the
prophecy by a calling by God which orients the prophet mentally
to prepare for the unexpected.