the Second Week of Advent
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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
The easterns, in particular the Jews, greatly regarded dreams, and applied for their interpretation to those who undertook to explain them. The ancient Greeks and Romans had the same opinion of them, as appears from their most eminent writers. We see the antiquity of this attention to dreams in the history of Pharaoh's butler and baker, Genesis 40. Pharaoh himself, and Nebuchadnezzar, are instances. God expressly condemned to death all who pretended to have prophetic dreams, and to foretel futurities, even though what they foretold came to pass, if they had any tendency to promote idolatry, Deuteronomy 13:1-3 . But the people were not forbidden, when they thought they had a significative dream, to address the prophets of the Lord, or the high priest in his ephod, to have it explained. Saul, before the battle of Gilboa, consulted a woman who had a familiar spirit, "because the Lord would not answer him by dreams, nor by prophets," 1 Samuel 28:6-7 . The Lord himself sometimes discovered his will in dreams, and enabled persons to explain them. He informed Abimelech in a dream, that Sarah was the wife of Abraham, Genesis 20:3; Genesis 20:6 . He showed Jacob the mysterious ladder in a dream, Genesis 28:12-13; and in a dream an angel suggested to him a means of multiplying his flocks, Genesis 31:11-12 , &c. Joseph was favoured very early with prophetic dreams, whose signification was easily discovered by Jacob, Genesis 37:5 . God said, that he spake to other prophets in dreams, but to Moses face to face. The Midianites gave credit to dreams, as appears from that which a Midianite related to his companion; and from whose interpretation Gideon took a happy omen, Judges 7:13; Judges 7:15 . The Prophet Jeremiah exclaims against impostors who pretended to have had dreams, and abused the credulity of the people: "They prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him tell it faithfully, saith the Lord," Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 23:28-29 . The Prophet Joel promises from God, that in the reign of the Messiah, the effusion of the Holy Spirit should be so copious, that the old men should have prophetic dreams, and the young men should receive visions, Joel 2:28 .
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Dreams'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​d/dreams.html. 1831-2.