The orientals, and in particular the Jews, greatly regarded dreams, and applied for their interpretation to those who undertook to explain them. We see the antiquity of this custom in the history of Pharaoh’s butler and baker, Genesis 40:1-23; and Pharaoh himself and Nebuchadnezzar are also instances. God expressly forbade his people to observe dreams, and to consult explainers of them. He condemned to death all who pretended to have prophetic dreams, even though what they foretold came to pass, if they had any tendency to promote idolatry, Deuteronomy 13:1-3. But they were not forbidden, when they thought they had a significant dream, to address the prophets of the Lord, or the high priest in his ephod, to have it explained. The Lord frequently made known his will in dreams, and enabled persons to explain them, Genesis 20:3-7 28:12-15 1 Samuel 28:6 Daniel 2:1-49 Joel 2:28 Matthew 1:20 Acts 27:22. Supernatural dreams are distinguished from visions, in that the former occurred during sleep, and the latter when the person was awake. God spoke to Abimelech in a dream, but to Abraham by vision. In both cases he left on the mind an assurance of the certainty of whatever he revealed. Both are now superseded by the Bible, our sure and sufficient guide through earth to heaven.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.