Dear Rabbi Simon
Are there any specific examples of meditation among biblical personalities? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your question. Many commentators regard meditation as a propaedeutic to and potentially a means of achieving prophecy. In this view, the great prophets would have practiced meditation as a means of achieving prophetic inspiration. For more on this approach see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s book Meditation and the Bible. More widely available and easier to understand (at least for me) is his Jewish Meditation.
An instance of meditation according to some commentators is Gen. 24:63, “Isaac went out to meditate in the field,” ie to commune with nature. Prophecy comes to one in a state of quietude and freedom from distractions and distress, for which purpose music may be helpful. See 2 Kings 3:15. The fact that Moshe is described as unique in achieving prophecy in a lucid, wakeful state (Num. 12:6-8) implies that other prophets will experience this only in a dream or in a prophetic (or meditative) trance. An example of this is the heathen prophet Balaam in Num. 24:4.
I would acknowledge that none of these (or other) sources state unequivocally that these people were practicing meditation in the sense that we use the term today (ie with its connotation of Eastern religious traditions, or even independent of those). Nevertheless, it is evident that prophecy would generally not spring “out of the blue”, and that even one capable of prophecy would need to ready himself (or herself) for the experience. Meditation would seem to be part of this process.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon