Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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What is the Church’s perspective concerning dreams? How should one regard a dream especially dreams that feature biblical or contemporary church figures, church events, holy places etc…? Should one attach any interpretation to them?

According to the Holy Bible:
"Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more" (Genesis 37:5).
According to the Holy Book of Job 33:15, many throughout the ancient Near East believed that gods communicated with human beings through "dreams" or "visions through the night". Many dreams were very clear and understandable; while others required interpretation.

In the past, God communicated with the righteous and unrighteous through dreams. For example,when King Abimelech took Sarah from Abraham to add to his harem, not knowing that Sarah and Abraham were married; "That night in a dream God spoke to the king and threatened to take his life if he approached Sarah" (Genesis 20:1-18).

The list of the people God had communicated with through dreams includes: Laban (Genesis 31:24), Solomon (I Kings 3:5), and King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:3). Jacob, Joseph, Pharaoh, Pharaoh's butler and baker, and a Midian soldier can also be placed among those with dreams in the Old Testament.

It should be noted that not all dreams were from God. Jeremiah criticized false prophets who presented their dreams as the Word of God (Jeremiah 23:25-32).Also Moses warned against dreams that could lead the Israelites to worship false gods (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

In the New Testament, most messages carried out through dreams, occur in the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew. There are five dreams that specifically relate to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. In one, God warns the wise men not to tell King Herod where the baby Lord Jesus could be found (Matthew 2:12). The other dreams are instructions to St Joseph. Also in the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, Pilate's wife pleads with him not to have anything to do with the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ; "For today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about Him" (Matthew 27:19).

The Coptic Church recognizes the value of dreams as in the biblical examples. However, the practice of attempting to see or predict the future is against the teachings of the Church.

Interpreting dreams could very well be regarded as "divination." The Israelite law in the Old Testament forbids this. Israel is cautioned not to give heed to diviners, "as for you, the Lord your God does not permit you to do so" (Deuteronomy 18:14). "No one shall be found among you.... who practices divination..." (Deuteronomy 18:10).
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