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Guide for the Perplexed, by Moses Maimonides, Friedländer tr. [1904], at


Yaẓa ("he came out") is the opposite of ba ("he came in"). The term yaẓa is applied to the motion of a body from a place in which it had previously rested, to another place (whether the body be a living being or not), e.g., "And when they were gone out (yaẓeü) if the city" (Gen. xliv. 4); "If fire break out (teẓe)" (Exod. xxii. .5). It was then figuratively employed to

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denote the appearance of something incorporeal, as, "The word went out (yaẓa) of the king's mouth" (Esth. vii. 8); "When this deed of the queen shall come abroad (yeẓe) unto all women" (Esth. i. 17), that is to say, "the report will spread." Again, "For out of Zion shall go forth (teẓe) the Law" (Isa. ii. 3); further, "The sun had risen (yaẓa) upon the earth" (Gen. xix. 23), i.e., its light became visible.

In this figurative sense we must take every expression of coming out when applied to the Almighty, e.g., "Behold, the Lord cometh out (yoẓe) of his place" (Isa. xxvi. 21), i.e., "The word of God, which until now has been in secret, cometh out, and will become manifest," i.e., something will come into being which had not existed before: for everything new emanating from God is ascribed to His word. Comp. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. xxxiii. 6). This is a simile taken from the conduct of kings, who employ the word as the means of carrying their will into effect. God, however, requires no instrument wherewith to operate in order to perform anything; the effect is produced solely by His will alone. He does not employ any kind of speech, as will be explained further on (chap. Iv.).

The verb "to come out" is thus employed to designate the manifestation of a certain work of God, as we noticed in our interpretation of the phrase, "Behold, the Lord cometh out of his place." In a similar manner the term shub, "to return," has been figuratively employed to denote the discontinuance of a certain act according to the will of God, as in "I will go and return to my place" (Hosea v. 15); that is to say, the Divine presence (Shechinah) which had been in our midst departed from us, the consequence of which has been the absence of Divine protection from amongst us. Thus the Prophet foretelling misfortune says, "And I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured" (Deut. xxxi. 17); for, when man is deprived of Divine protection he is exposed to all dangers, and becomes the butt of all fortuitous circumstances: his fortune and misfortune then depend on chance. Alas! how terrible a threat!--This is the idea contained in the words," I will go and return to my place" (Hos. v. 15).

Next: Chapter XXIV