THE PROPHETS AND THE
WILLIS JUDSON BEECHER
1905 by Thomas Y. Crowell,
Digitized by Ted
IN part the Stone lectures as delivered were a selec-
tion from the materials of this volume, and in part the
volume is an expansion of the lectures. It is a product
of studies, accumulating during many years, rather than
a predirected discussion of a subject, but I hope that it
will not be found deficient in logical coherence.
The presentation it makes is essentially a restatement
of the Christian tradition that was supreme fifty years
ago, but a restatement with differences so numerous
and important that it will probably be regarded, by men
who do not think things through, as an attack on that
tradition. If what I have said makes that impression
on any one, and if he regards the matter as of sufficient
importance, I ask him to consider it more carefully. I
have tried to make my search a search for the truth,
without undue solicitude as to whether its results are
orthodox; but it seems to me that my conclusions are
simply the old orthodoxy, to some extent transposed into
the forms of modern thought, and with some new ele-
ments introduced by widening the field of the induction.
It follows, of course, that my position is antagonistic
to that of the men who attack the older tradition. But
I have tried not to be polemic. I have tried to give
due consideration to the views of the men with whom
I differ. Where practicable, I have preferred the
broader statements, in which we are in agreement, to
the narrower ones that would emphasize our differences.
Scope of the work 3
I. Sources. The scriptures as a source. Direct study versus
general reading. Is the testimony credible? Direct examination
versus cross-examination. Dependence on critical questions. The
provisionally historical point of view. Evidence tested by use 4
II. Interpreting the sources. Avoid eisegesis. Eisegesis of
Christian doctrine. Of negative assumptions. Of theories of reli-
gion. Of particular schemes of Comparative Religion. A true
III. Points concerning the treatment. Outline. Certain matters
of detail 15
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS
Prophet. Nabhi and its cognates. Hhozeh and its cognates.
Roeh and its cognates. The uses of raah and hhazah. Man of
God. Word of Yahaweh. Saith Yahaweh. Man of the Spirit.
Terms used at all dates. Interchangeable as to the person de-
noted. Three degrees of extension. Raving 32
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS
Introductory. The subject attractive. Division into periods 36
I. Prophecy in the times before Samuel. Before Abraham.
The patriarchs as prophets. Prophecy in the times of Moses and
Joshua. In the times of the Judges. The dearth of prophecy in the
time of Eli 38
II. Prophecy in the times of Samuel and later. First period,
that of Samuel, David, and Nathan : the great names, the organ-
izations, the terms that are used. Second period, from the disrup-
tion to Elisha: distinguished prophets, "the sons of the prophets,"
false prophets, the use of terms. Third period, that of Amos and
Isaiah: the great prophets, the numbers of the prophets true and
false, the use of terms. Fourth period, that of Jeremiah and others:
the great names, the many prophets true and false. Fifth period,
the exilian prophets : the great names and the many prophets true
and false. Sixth period, the postexilian prophets: the great names
and the many other prophets. The cessation of prophecy 47
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE
The question. How affected by one's critical position 66
I. External appearance of the prophet. Baseless current ideas.
Unearthly phenomena absent. Was there a prophetic costume?
The facts significant even if negative. Did the prophets rave?
The prophets long-lived 67
II. The organizations of the prophets. Samuel's "companies."
The Naioth institution. "The sons of the prophets" 76
III. The so-called prophetic order. Holy orders. The prophets
a succession. They had no priestly character. Was the prophet a
graduate? Ordination. How one became a prophet 80
The prophet especially a manly man. The absence of insignia
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET—NATURALISTIC
Introductory. Guarding against mistaken assumptions. The
name indicates the function. Passages that outline the prophetic
I. Naturalistic functions. They were public men. Jeremiah as
a statesman. Isaiah and Hosea as statesmen. Prophetic ideal of
were reformers. Some of their reforms. They were preachers of
good tidings. They were literary men. Certain points need to be
guarded. Different grades and kinds of prophets. The prophet
both local and cosmopolitan. The sense in which devout persons
or great leaders are prophets 93
II. Supernaturalistic functions. The prophets claim them.
Working of miracles, disclosing of secrets, prediction, the giving
of torah, the messianic forecast. Revealers of the monotheism of
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE
I. How given to him. The source of his inspiration is the Spirit
of Yahaweh. Utterances inspired by the Spirit. Deeds inspired
by the Spirit. Micaiah's lying Spirit. The nature of the Spirit of
Yahaweh. The modes in which the prophet received his message.
Classification of them. Dreams. The interpreting of dreams.
Picture-vision. Visions of insight. Hhazah versus raah. Vision
other than by sense-images. Theophany. Its forms. The Angel.
Theophany versus picture-vision. The notable absence of artificial
II. How uttered by him. Prophetic object lessons. Types.
No double meanings. Manifold fulfilment. Generic prophecy.
The art of persuasive speech 125
THE PROPHET AS A GIVER OF TORAH AND
WRITER OF SCRIPTURE
General statements 133
I. The term "law" in later writings. Current use. Use in
Jewish literature, later and earlier. In the New Testament. Ira
the Apocrypha 134
II. The term "law" in the Old Testament. Derivation of torah
and horah. Torah is from Deity. Is authoritative. Revealed
through prophets. Guarded and administered by. priests. Inter-
preted by both. No separate priestly torah. Its forms. Oral or
written. A particular revelation. An aggregate. The noun used
abstractly. The known and definite aggregate. Some section of
the aggregate 139
The nature of the torah-aggregate. Limitations of the term.
Examination of instances. From earlier records of the Mosaic
times. From Deuteronomy and the writings that presuppose it.
From the earlier prophetic books. The torah not primarily the
pentateuch. Law and Prophets and Writings from the first. A
separate pentateuch? The torah and the Old Testament. Some
sources were torah and others not. Five torah-producing periods.
Not three canons. Later emergence of the threefold division 155
III. The prophets as writers of scripture. As bringers of torah.
Their authority the highest. All scripture equally of prophetic
THE PROMISE–DOCTRINE AS TAUGHT IN THE NEW
Introductory. The Christian messianic idea distinctive. Mes-
sianic prediction, prophecy, doctrine. The proposition 175
I. The New Testament claim. That there is one promise. The
promise to Abraham. Consisting of many promises. The theme of
the whole Old Testament. Pervading all New Testament thought 179
II. The use made of the claim. The promise eternally operative
and irrevocable. Jesus Christ its culminating fulfilment. The gen-
tiles share in the benefit of it. It underlies the great doctrines of
the gospel: the kingdom, immortality, the Holy Ghost, redemption
from sin 185
Concluding statements. Recapitulation. A Christocentric theology 192
THE PROMISE AS GIVEN TO THE PATRIARCHS
Outline of treatment. Pre-Abrahamic passages 195
I. The promise as made. Earliest statement. Its subordinate
items. The principal item emphasized. Climacteric order. Five
times repeated. The name Abraham. Seed. Covenants. Pecul-
iar people. The promise eternally operative. This emphasized.
Therefore of progressive fulfilment. The seed a continuing unit 197
II. Problems concerning the promise. How affected by critical
theories. What is true according to all theories. The contem-
porary understanding of the promise. In what sense they under-
stood it to be predictive. Its value as practical doctrine 207
THE PROMISE AS RENEWED TO
Yahaweh's son. Separative institutions. For eternity. Irrevocable
even for sin. Rest. Has mankind a share in this? That all
may know Yahaweh. "My own, out of all the peoples." A king-
dom of priests. Continuity with the patriarchal revelation. Con-
sistent with the treatment of Amalek and the Canaanite. Critical
point of view. Contemporary interpretation 217
II. For the times of David. 2 Samuel vii. David's house. His
seed. The temple builder. Line of kings. An eternal kingdom.
Irrevocable even for sin. In continuation with the promise to
"To thee for a people." "One nation in the earth." Yahaweh's
son. The torah of mankind. Critical views. Contemporary in-
THE PROMISE–DOCTRINE OF THE PROPHETS AND
Introductory. Recapitulation. A new phase. The messianic
dogma. Its homiletical presentation 241
I. Modes of expressing it. The predictive passages. A sermon
text or a proof text. Repeating the old phrases. Amplifying them.
Psalm lxxxix. Celebration songs. Technical terms and collateral
lines. Presupposition oftener than open statement 243
II. The matters which they emphasize. The three promises the
same. The promise cosmopolitan. The temple for the nations.
of thinking that it created.
promise. Mediatorial suffering 252
Critical questions 261
MESSIANIC TERMS. THE SERVANT
Introductory. Recapitulation. Rise of technical terms. "Ser-
vant" the most conspicuous term. Isaiah xl—lxvi 263
I. Two auxiliary matters. First, national personality in the
Hebrew. Second, presuppositions of the promise history 265
II. The Servant. Outline. Instances in which the Servant is
The Servant speaking in the first person.
sion to himself. Isaiah xlii. 1—4. Isaiah lii. i3-liii. Mediatorial
III. Servant a representative term. Two one-sided interpre-
tations. The true interpretation. Universalness. A glimpse at the
MESSIANIC TERMS. THE KINGDOM AND ITS
I. The kingdom. In the earliest times. The time of Eli. From
David onward. In the psalms and prophecies. Yahaweh's king-
dom. Universal peace. Independent of disputed dates. A king-
dom of influence 289
II. The anointed king. The words "anoint," "anointed."
Correct form of the question. The Messiah as a coming person.
Transition to the New Testament idea 298
III. The eschatological trend. The latter days. The day of
Yahaweh. That day. History of the phrase. Exodus. Joel. Oba-
diah, Amos, and others. Always impending. The New Testament
MESSIANIC TERMS. YAHAWEH'S HHASIDH. OTHER
I. Hhasidh. Its derivation and meaning. Outline of instances.
Yahaweh as hhasidh. The hhasidhim are Israelites as people of
promise. Not a sect.
equivalent to Anointed one. The instances where the readings
vary. Summary. The Asideans. In the New Testament 313
Yahaweh's Son. Sons of promise. The virgin mother. The
Branch. Netser. Nagidh, that is, Regent. "My Lord" in
Psalm cx 329
The common characteristics of the messianic terms 342
COLLATERAL LINES OF PROMISE-DOCTRINE
Introductory. Recapitulation. The Person of the promise. That
in him which is extraordinary. Genesis xlix. to. Psalm cx. To
what extent a reality. A nucleus for doctrine. Both typical and
I. The prophets themselves types of the Person of the promise.
Deuteronomy xviii 350
II. The theophanic Angel in his relations to the promise. In
the earliest times. At the exodus. In later times. In Malachi 352
III. Israel's institutions as typical of the promise. The ark and
the mercy seat. The sacred year. Some worshippers had insight.
IV. Other matters. Persons or objects as types. Particular
passages. In fine, almost all Old Testament details 361
MESSIANIC EXPECTATION AND FULFILMENT
I. The expectation in the time, of Jesus. Sources. A temporal
deliverer? More adequate statement. The promise-doctrine
known. Not a Pauline view merely. The kingdom expected.
And its Anointed king. Heir of David. But many unsettled
points. There were spiritual expectations. Especially of redemp-
tion from sin. False messiahs 365
II. How the promise has been fulfilled. As a promise, and not
mere prediction. An eternal fulfilment necessarily cumulative.
National and cosmopolitan and through a Person. In what sense
may Jesus be the fulfilment? A summary of the fulfilling facts.
Exclusive Jewish interpretation. Exclusive Christian interpretation.
The true Jewish-Christian interpretation. Fulfilment in the ethnical
THE APOLOGETIC VALUE OF PROPHECY
Introductory. The old argument. Need of restatement. Our
conclusions thus far provisional; are they true ? Theistic pre-
I. Recapitulation. The prophet as we have found him. Pre-
diction as we have found it. Messianic doctrine as we have found
it. The gospel in the Old Testament as we have found it 391
II. The argument. From the presentment of the prophet. The
biblical ideal a true ideal. Apologetic bearings. Its concept of
divine revelation. From the presentment of the national ideal.
The bearing of critical theories. The significance of the ideal.
How is it to be accounted for? A contrasting ideal. The pro-
phetic mode of presentation. From historical verisimilitude. Self-
consistency. The promise-doctrine as a solution of difficulties.
Credibility. Unmiraculous events. Miraculous events. Intelligible
continuity. Bearings in the argument. From fulfilled prediction.
Has the promise been kept? The thing promised exceptional.
in the secular history of
torial suffering. The argument not trivial. Fulfilled in the three
religions of Yahaweh. Their civilizational results. Their spiritual
results. Fulfilled in the person of Jesus. A futile objection. No
need that Apologetics surrender historical fact 394
THE PROPHETS AND THE
THE prophets of
were, their functions, naturalistic or supernaturalistic,
how their messages were given to them and how uttered
by them, their part in the writing of the scriptures, the
they taught concerning
tions to Deity and to mankind, the messianic kingdom
they heralded and its king, and the value of their mis-
sion for the current illustration and defence of the Chris-
tian religion, —this theme and these topics under it are
certainly not new. They are familiar, trite, common-
place. Yet it seems to me that in this field a pains-
taking student may still hope to gather something. The
older treatments seem to me inadequate, by reason of a
certain lack of insight into the literary character of the
sources and into the nature of historical movements, and
by reason of too great reliance on traditional interpre-
tations. The newer treatments seem to me yet more
inadequate, by reason of the too easy rejection of por-
tions of the testimony, and the too ready substitution
of conjecture for evidence. Both leave something to
be desired in this field of study, and something that is
not beyond the reach of diligence and industry.
4 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
Without taking time to discuss thoroughly the prin-
ciples that should govern such an investigation as this,
I shall try to present, in this preliminary chapter, a few
considerations touching the sources to be used and the
interpretation of them, followed by a brief outline of the
treatment that will be attempted.
I. The Old Testament is our one direct source of in-
formation concerning the prophets and their teachings.
Indirect sources are, first, the New Testa-
Sources ment and other later writings, including the
evidence of the 'monuments; second, analogies drawn
from other religions, or from later times, or from our
theories or opinions.
Of these sources the Old Testament, supplemented
at some points by the New, is principal, and all others
The scrip- are subsidiary. Simple as this fact is, it is
tures as a imperative that we pay it due attention. Our
source generation is much in the habit of substitut-
ing superficial reading for careful study. If a person
has read a hundred volumes, in six or seven languages,
concerning the prophets, he is in danger of fancying
that he has done more work on the subject than if he
had carefully examined all that the Old and New !Testa-
ments say about them. To avoid being misled, he
should have it in mind that the hundred volumes con-
tain very little real information save that which has
been drawn from these principal sources. Nireteen-
twentieths of all that we really know on this subject
comes from the bible. Only the other twentieth comes
from extrabiblical tradition, or from monuments, or from
the analogy of other religions, or by inference from
the theories we hold, or from our general knowledge
of things and men.
My purpose is, mainly, to reexamine the evidence
found in the Old and New Testaments. To some this
programme will seem exceedingly simple and rudimen-
tary. They would think it a greater thing to The need
read many books, and discuss the bearing of of original
their contents on the subject in hand. But study
no amount of reading can supersede the necessity of
examining for ourselves the direct evidence in the case.
Just this has been more neglected than anything else
dealing with the subject of the prophets of
Men of learning as well as others have neglected it.
We must do this first of all, and do it with care, or
all other study of the subject will be of little value
Men have assumed that they were already famil-
iar with what the Old Testament says concerning the
prophets, when they were not really so ; and have
hastened on prematurely to the examination of the col-
lateral branches of the evidence. Many of the current
statements as to what the Old Testament says are based
on analogies, or on later traditions, to a much greater
extent than on the actual testimony of the Old Testa-
ment. Such statements are instances of mistaken
method. The direct evidence in the case is not only
the most important, but it is essential to the correct
understanding of the indirect evidence. The indirect
evidence can genuinely assist in interpreting the direct
only on condition of its being itself interpreted by
the direct. In Old Testament studies, the thing now
more needed than anything else is a more correct
knowledge of what the Old Testament says. Always
the, beginner should begin by attaining to this correct
knwledge; and at present, in Old Testament work,
this is the need of advanced scholars as well as of
6 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
At once we see the importance of the question of the;
degree of credence to be accorded to the testimony of
In what degree our principal sources, If we hold to a divine
is the testimony inspiration that guarantees the remarkable
credible? truthfulness of all parts of the bible, it
does not therefore follow that we must take this doc
trine as a presupposition in our historical study of
the prophets. And if one holds that the bible is full
of mistaken statements, that does not justify him in an,
undiscriminating rejection of the statements concerning
the prophets. Both as a matter of correct method;
and for the sake of convincing those with whom we
differ, we should waive, at the outset, all questions of
inspiration, and treat our sources merely as literature
that has come down to us from a remote past. In
respect to trustworthiness we will make no stronger
claim than this : that statements of fact found in the
Old and New Testaments are to be provisionally
regarded as true except as reasons appear to the
This is not an extravagant claim to make for the
truthfulness of the scriptures. Our courts would accor l
as much credence as this, not to a reputable witness
only, but even to a witness who is a jailbird or a harlot
or a noted liar. If statements of fact are self-contradic-
tory, or contrary to known truth, we will not accept
them. Even if they are seemingly credible we will at
the outset accept them only provisionally, till we can
test them by their results when we bring them into corr.-
bination with other truths. We will fully admit the prin-
ciple that human historians often make mistakes. Blot
this we must insist upon: that statements of fact are
to be provisionally accepted unless there are substantial
reasons for not accepting them.
It follows that in using the testimony of the Old and
New Testaments on this and other questions, we ought
to begin with a direct examination, and not Direct examination
with a cross-examination. We ought to take versus cross-
the trouble to understand what their statements examination
mean, in the form in which they have come down to us,
as preliminary to testing the truth of them, and either
accepting or rejecting them.
As our investigation depends largely on the question
of the historical correctness of the affirmations of the
bible, so it depends indirectly on questions Dependence
concerning the structure, the date, and the on critical
authorship of the books. For these have questions
their bearing on the question of historicity, and also on
the question of the interpretation of the statements we
find. Yet we need not wait till all these other questions
are settled before we begin our studies concerning the
prophets. Indeed, many of the questions concerning
the prophets are more simple and primary than the
others, and therefore ought to be studied first, that the
results reached may assist us in our inquiries into mat-
ters that are less obvious.
Our first inquiry is : What are the representations of
the Old Testament in regard to the prophets? In other
words : What manner of men were the proph- The provi-
ets, supposing the statements of the Old sional point
Testament concerning them to be historical, of view
so far as they purport to be so, and supposing them also
to be correct? From the point of view of all parties this
is a fair question. It is supposable that, in seeking the
answer, we may find the statements of the Old Testa-
ment unsatisfactory, but at the outset the question is a
fair one. On the supposition that the Old Testament
a truthful account of the prophets of
8 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
is that account? We do not affirm that it give a
truthful account; we do not deny it; we simply up-
It is wisest to start from this point of departure, not
trying to settle beforehand all questions in regard to the
character or the trustworthiness of our data, but using
them at first as provisional, and as leading only to pro-
visional results. We shall surely test the data as we ad-
vance. If they are not trustworthy, we shall find it but.
If they are trustworthy, we shall see them to be so, and
shall thus transform our provisional results into final
These last considerations are important. How shall
we determine whether statements of fact found in any
Use as a test source are to be depended upon? There is
of evidence no better test than that of actual use. By
carefully examining what the Old Testament says on
such a subject as the prophets, we may form a judgment
concerning the Old Testament as a source of evidence.
Certain schools of criticism deny that these books are
historically valid, asserting that they are full of anach-
ronisms and inconsistencies and absurdities. In base
this is so, we shall be pretty sure to find traces of the
unhistorical character of the books, if we carefully ex-
amine some section of them, running through different
chronological periods. Such a section for testing them
is afforded in what they say concerning the prophets.
This is found scattered through all the books, including
a vast number of details and allusions, belonging to
periods of time separated by centuries. It is conceivable
beforehand that we may find these details so confused
and inconsistent as to be incredible in many points, and
that we may be compelled to estimate the books accord-
ingly. On the other hand, if we find their account of
the prophets to be throughout consistent and probable,
that will be an argument of no little weight in favor of
the historical trustworthiness of the books themselves.
Thus our attitude toward these writings and their
testimony is at the outset neutral. It will not remain
so. As the investigation proceeds we shall inevitably
either gain or lose confidence in the witnesses.
II. In the interpretation of our sources, and especially
of the Old Testament, there is one point in particular in
which we need to be sedulously on our guard. That is
the point where we are in danger of substituting an
eisegetical treatment for an exegetical.
None of us come to this study as to a new and unfa-
miliar subject. We already have pretty distinct ideas
concerning the prophets and their activities, Eisegesis is
and in particular concerning messianic predic- to be avoided
tion, and the meaning and use of the term Messiah. It
is supposable that our preconceived ideas may be crude
and misleading. We can decide this only by holding
them in suspense until we can test them by the facts
we find by study. We cannot be too jealously careful
against the process of merely first putting our ideas into
the Old Testament passages, and then dipping them out
again. There is especial danger of eisegesis from two
sources, Christian theology and theories of Compara-
We must avoid alike the carrying back of Christian
ideas into the Old Testament and the neglecting of
those ideas that belong to the Old Testament in com-
mon with Christianity.
When we are studying the Old Testament we ought
not to import into it ideas drawn from the New Testa-
ment, or from some scheme of Christian messianic the-
ology. This rule is nowadays often laid down; if we
10 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
violate it, we shall not do so for lack of being warned; but
it is a correct rule. And we shall not properly observe
Eisegesis of it unless we take pains. We are familiar, for
Christian example, with a certain interpretation of w5at
doctrine the New Testament says concerning Jesus
as the Messiah, and we go to the Old Testament look-
ing for the same teaching expressed in similar terms.
In this way we are likely to find what we are looking
for, whether it is there or not. We sometimes find
thing's where they are not. We put the idea into he
passage, instead of looking to see what is already in he
passage ; and then, by way of interpretation, we take out
just what we have put in, possibly a little miscolored by
This way of studying the Old Testament is all he
more dangerous because it is not altogether valueless.
The method of interpreting the Old Testament by he
light of the New is within its proper limits correct.
Even when the method is incorrectly used, such study
is study. Though faulty, it may, especially in the case
of persons who have spiritual insight, result in he
reaching of truth. Critically bad as this way of learn-
ing is, we cannot afford to forego it save as we an
replace it by something better.
Nevertheless it is logically bad. It is contrary to
accepted laws of investigation. There are grave objec-
tions to it. First, it is needless. All the truth it yields
is equally attainable by methods that will stand the test
of correct criticism. Second, it is perilous. The truth
we thus reach, though genuinely true, has yet been
inferred from premises that can be shown to be false.
There is danger that when we come to see that he
premises are false, our confidence in the truth will be
shaken. Third, it is wasteful. By this particular way
of learning the Old Testament through the New we
obtain from it nothing but a pale reflection of the New.
This is a great loss. In a wide range of truths the
Old Testament is more rudimentary, and therefore
simpler and fuller than the New. It is capable of
illuminating the New, and not merely of being illuminated
by it. When so much light is ready to glow, we cannot
afford to take a point of view which brings the object
perpetually into the shadow.
Equally true, however, and at present far more to
the purpose, is the converse rule that, in studying the
Old Testament, we should not drop out the Eisegesis of
ideas which we actually find there, merely be- negative
cause the same ideas are also found in the assumptons
New Testament. We are just now in far greater danger
of making this mistake than the other. There are men
who are so afraid of reading into the Old Testament
some more recent truth that does not belong there that
they actually expel from it, in their interpretations, some
of its simplest and most evident teachings. They say,
for example, that the fatherhood of God is a New Testa-
ment teaching; ands they affirm that the Old Testament
passages which speak of God as father must be under-
stood as meaning something less than they say. We are
not infrequently told that the heart of the religious teach-
ing of Jesus is his doctrine concerning love — to love God
with the whole heart, to love our neighbors as ourselves,
to love our enemies and in this the religion of Jesus is
contrasted with that of the Old Testament; and pas-
sages in the Old Testament which verbally teach just
these doctrines are subjected to a squeezing process to
expel from them this alleged impossible doctrine of love.
Those who practise this style of interpretation ignore
the fact that the doctrines of supreme love to God,
12 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
equal love to men, and love to enemies are chiefly
taught in the New Testament by direct citation from
the Old, with distinct affirmation that these are the doc-
trines which are to be regarded as central in the Old
Testament. The same style of interpretation is prac-
tised in many other instances, and in particular n the
interpretation of the Old Testament statements concern-
ing the prophets.
Against this I protest as being critically worst than
even the current habit of reading New Testament ean-
ings into the Psalms and the Prophets. We are to go to
the Old Testament to find what is there, and not to find
what we suppose ought to be there. Anything we find
there is not removed from there by the fact, if such be
the fact, that it is also found in the New Testament, or
in the Vedas or the Sagas or the Chinese or the reek
literature. Not to speak at all of possibilities rising
from the inspiration of the writers of the Old and New
Testaments, nothing is more in accord with probability
than that great truths should be repeated by the great
minds of different ages.
Quite as baneful in its effect as any other form of
eisegesis is the practice of unduly interpreting the
Eisegesis of biblical statements by the theories th t one
theories of may hold as to the evolution of religion. To
religion the evidence from the analogy of other reli-
gions we should allow just its proper value, and no
more. There are scholars who reason on the asump-
tion that certain propositions, inferred from the com-
parison of the various human religions, are to be
regarded as ascertained scientific facts; so that biblical
statements, if they conflict with these alleged facts, are
thereby proved to be untrue. This is unscientific. The
religion described in the bible is the one early religion
in regard to which we have, on the whole, fuller and
more trustworthy information than in regard to any
other. Any generalizations on the rise and develop-
ment of religions, made without using the data given in
the bible, are, by that very circumstance, so far forth
defective and unscientific. Again, no other known re-
ligion is so decidedly marked by its own peculiarities
as the religion described in the bible. If generalizations
were made by the comparison of all other known reli-
gions, still no one would be justified in arguing that these
us facts concerning the religion of
sition to the specific evidence we have concerning that
Here is the danger in one direction. On the other
hand, the analogies of other religions may indirectly
throw great light on the history of the religion of the
bible. It is foolish to neglect this or any other source
of possible evidence. In fine, these analogies are, in
biblical questions, of the nature of remote evidence, and
should be treated as remote evidence is properly treated
in any investigation. They should neither be discred-
ited, nor pushed into the chief place to the discrediting
of the direct evidence.
This is the general rule. How much credit should
be given to any particular scheme of Comparative
Religion is another question. For instance, how shall
we account a theory which assumes that the religion of
advanced thereafter by certain specified steps from
lower to higher? Do we know that the religion of the
time of the judges was primitive? If the chronological
opinions now current are correct, the times of the
judges are modern compared with the earliest times
in which splendid religious cults are known to have
14 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
in Babylonia or
order of evolution in a religion is uniformly in an as end-
ing series, according to some particular theory of ascent
and descent?l It is obvious that conclusions derived
from such processes need to be very cautiously used
when they are set forth in contradiction to specific
In opposition to such methods as have just bee dis-
cussed, the true method is to come to an Old Testament
A true passage with the question : What did this
method mean to an intelligent, devout, uninspired
Israelite of the time to which it belongs? The Old
Testament passage, whatever its date may be, is it elf a
monument of the Israelite mind of that time. As a dis-
closure of Israelite religious thought in the time when
it was written or in earlier times, it is more authoritative
than any inferences we may draw from what we happen
to know of the religious thought of the Iroquois o the
Hottentots or the Chinese or the Thibetans. In order
to understand the passage, we must bear in mind t at it
was uttered for thoughtful people, and was suite to
their capacities. The great majority was then as now
unintelligent and superficial in matters of religious
thinking, and we are not to gauge the utterance by the
likelihood that such would take an interest in it
1 "Scholars of this class are in the habit of arranging all know
and cults in linear series, placing those which they consider the lo
the bottom, and those which they consider the highest at the to
others graduating between these two extremes. From this artificial
proceeding on the assumption that the lowest must of necessity
most ancient, they write the history of civilization and thought.
method is a radically pernicious one. The series of facts might
easily read in the descending scale; . . . The history of religions
be based, not upon gratuitous assumptions . . . but upon such real
cal facts as are obtainable." — Merwin-Marie Snell in Biblical
September, 1896, p. 209.
there were miraculously inspired men in those days,
they may supposably have understood the thought
given in the passage in the light of all the future history
of mankind ; but it was not for such men that the utter-
ance was chiefly given. The givers of the message
claim to be inspired, but it was to uninspired though
thoughtful men that the message was immediately
directed. So far forth as we can assume their attitude,
we are in shape to understand the utterances that were
primarily designed for them.
III. The order of treatment adopted in this volume
is based in part on a conception of the relative present-
day importance of the several topics treated. Order of
The greatest interest we feel in the prophets treatment
arises from the doctrine they taught concerning the
Messiah. On the basis of this fact, the subject separates
into two principal parts, dealing respectively with the
prophets as the men who promulgated the messianic
promise and with the promise which they promulgated.
In treating the first of these two parts we must necessarily
begin by some discussion of the terms used. Then we
pass naturally to a biographical and historical account
of the succession of persons known as the prophets.
Nowhere in history can we find a line of men more
picturesque and interesting in themselves, or whose
achievements have been more, significant. They figure
more prominently than any other men in the history of
be a complete history of
attractive part of our subject, however, we must dismiss
with a single chapter, instead of allowing it to expand
into a volume. With the questions of the personal pre-
sentment and the functions of the prophet we must deal
somewhat more fully. Further, the authorship of the
16 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
Old Testament is attributed to the prophets, alike in
the Old Testament itself, in the New Testament, and in
Jewish and Christian tradition. There is no studying
the Old Testament or Old Testament criticism, apart
from the prophets. We must discuss this claim, though
briefly. These topics will occupy the first part of the
volume, leading up to the consideration, in the second
part, of the messianic promise. The second part
naturally closes with the question of the bearing of the
whole upon Christian Apologetics.
It may not be superfluous to mention a fe matters
of detail. Most of the scriptural passages used have
Certain mat- been freshly translated. The translating has
ters of detail been done with the fact in mind that readers
are likely to have the current English version s within
reach. The translations I have given are ordinarily
more literal than those in the versions. In same cases
I have deliberately made them so at the cost of liter-
ary smoothness. Occasionally, however, the variation
from the common translation is made for the purpose
of bringing out the point under discussion.
The use of Hebrew type has been avoided. In
transliterating Hebrew words the attempt as been
to make them look as little un-English as possible, and
to avoid employing unusual type. Proper names and
other words familiar to the eye of English readers have
been retained in their traditional form. In words less
familiar a more accurate transliteration has been used,
though even in these the vocal sh'was are sometimes
represented by a short vowel instead of an apostrophe.
The continental vowel system has been used in trans-
literating, on account of the clumsiness of ou English
way of writing the vowels. Waw is represented by
w, and Yodh by y. The quiescing Waw is omitted,
save in special instances. The quiescing Yodh is
omitted after Hhiriq, but retained after Tsere and
Seghol, to distinguish these words from those that are
spelled with Aleph. I have not thought it necessary
to distinguish between Sin and Samekh, or between
Taw and Teth. Readers who know even a little
Hebrew can make these distinctions for themselves,
and for others the matter is unimportant. Aleph and
Ayin are commonly omitted in transliteration, though
for distinction Aleph is sometimes represented by the
spiritus lenis, and Ayin by the spiritus asper. Tsadhe
is represented by ts, and Hheth by hh.
For the name of the national God of Israel I have
used the form Yahaweh. No one should judge this
name until he has first acquired the habit of The name
pronouncing it correctly, according to the Yahaweh
analogies commonly accepted in pronouncing Hebrew.
Accent the last syllable, make the middle h distinctly
a consonant, and pronounce the middle a so short as to
make it a mere breathing. I do not care to discuss
the question whether "Yahweh" is theoretically a more
correct transliteration. Whoever tries to pronounce the
word with this spelling will inevitably either accent the
first syllable, or fail to sound the middle h, or introduce
a slight vowel sound after it. The third is the correct
alternative. If the word were rare, the best translit-
eration might be Yahweh, but for a frequent word,
Yahaweh pleases the eye better. For the rest, the
purposes of this volume require that this word shall
be distinguished as a proper name, and it seems to me
that the correct form of the word is better for this pur-
pose than the artificial combination "Jehovah.”
As for other designations of the supreme Being.
The name Yah should not be confounded with Yaha-
18 THE PROPHETS AND THE PROMISE
weh, as is done in the English versions. Even if
holds that Yah is an abbreviated form of Yahawe
must also acknowledge that the two are used
tinctively. The Hebrew word El is most exactly!
English word God, while Elohim is a more abs
term, like our English word Deity. Sometimes in
volume Elohim is translated Deity, for distinction;
more commonly it is translated God, following
THE PROPHETS OF
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS
OUR English word " prophet " is, of course, the Greek
word profh<thj, from pro<, and fhmi<. The word needs
no discussion here, as it is fully considered in “Prophet"
dictionaries and other accessible works.1 It in Greek and
denotes, not one who speaks beforehand, English
though the prophet was believed to be a foreteller of
events ; nor one who speaks in behalf of another, though
the prophet ordinarily speaks in behalf of Deity; but a
person who speaks forth, speaks publicly, speaks out
the word that he has to speak. When he predicts, he
speaks forth the future verity that would otherwise
remain in concealment. When he speaks for another,
he speaks forth the message which the other has com-
mitted to him, and which would otherwise have remained
unknown. The thing uttered is often a divinely given
prediction, but the word "prophesy" does not signify to
In the Hebrew, the prophet and his functions are
described in various terms. The standard term, the one
that is most distinctive, is the noun nabhi and Nabhi and
its cognates of the stem nabha. The words its cognates
of this stem are used in every part of the Old Testa-
ment. In our English versions they are uniformly
translated "prophet," "prophesy," "prophecy," and so
1 See the Greek lexicons of Cremer, Thayer, Liddell and Scott, etc.
Or see the Century Dictionary, or Skeat's Etymological Dictionary, or simi-
lar books of reference.
22 THE PROPHETS OF
forth. Except in five verses, no other word is so trans-
lated.1 The instances number some hundreds in all, and
they can readily be found for study by the aid of a con-
cordance, either English or Hebrew. We shall have
occasion to examine many of them, one by one, in our
present study of the prophets. The lexicons attribute to
the stem an original physical meaning, "to boil up," and
from this derive the idea of fervid utterance as charac-
terizing the prophets ; but this is an etymologist's con-
jecture, and is disputed by other etymologists. It is too
uncertain to build upon. What we know as to the
meaning of the word is inferred solely from the use of
it. Fortunately, the usage is abundant and unequivo-
cal. The whole of our study of prophecy will be really
a study of the meaning of the word. We need not antici-
pate further than to say that the meaning of the Hebrew
term is well expressed in its Greek-English equivalent.
In our English versions two different Hebrew words
are translated " seer," and each of them has a group of
cognates widely used for expressing matters concerning
Of the two, the one most properly so used is hhozeh.
It is the active participle of a verb that is common to the
Hhozeh and Hebrew and the Aramaic. In the Aramaic
its cognates it is the ordinary word for physical seeing,
but in Hebrew it is little used except to express thought-
ful insight, or in connection with prophetic matters.
David's friend Gad is described as a seer (2 Sam. xxiv.
11; 1 Chron. xxi. 9, xxix. 29; 2 Chron. xxix. 25). Asaph
and Heman and Jeduthun are severally called seers
(2 Chron. xxix. 30, xxxv. I 5 ; I Chron. xxv. 5). The
term is applied to Jedo and Iddo and Jehu and Amos
1 The five verses are Prov. xxx. i, xxxi. I; Isa. xxx. 10; Mic. ii. 6, ii.
The five verses contain in all ten instances.
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 23
(2 Chron. ix. 29, xii. 15, xix. 2; Am. vii. 12), and is also
used in cases where no individual is mentioned (2 Ki.
xvii. 13; Isa. xxix. 10, xxx. 10; Mic. iii. 7; 2 Chron.
xxxiii. 18, 19).
The verb of this stem is commonly translated "see."
It is often used in cases where an object is thought of
as presented to the eye, but it does not necessarily imply
that. It may denote any form of mental perception,
whether through the senses or not. The following are
examples. " The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz,
which he saw " (Isa. i. 1, cf. ii. 1, xiii. 1; Am. i. 1; Mic.
i. 1; Hab. i. 1). "The diviners have seen falsely "
(Zech. x. 2, cf. Lam. ii. 14 ; Ezek. xiii. 6, 7, 8; and the
Aramaic of Dan. vii. 1, 2, 7, 13, etc.). In one passage
the English versions render this noun and verb by
"prophet" and " prophesy," in order to distinguish
them from the other words for "seer" and "see"
(Isa. xxx. 10).
Several different nouns of this stem are also in use,
and each of them is sometimes rendered " vision " in
the English versions.1
1 The following are the nouns that occur most frequently: —
Hhazon, used thirty-five times. It commonly denotes a revelation
given to a prophet, whether through an appearance presented to the eye
or by some other method (t Sam. iii. i; i Chron. xvii. 15; Isa. xxix. 7;
Jer. xiv. 14, xxiii. i6, etc.). Often the word is used as part of the literary
title of a prophecy (Isa. i. i; Nah. i. t; 2 Chron. xxxii. 32).
Hhazoth (2 Chron. ix. 29). Part of a title of a writing.
Hhizzayon (2 Sam. vii. 17; Job iv. 13, vii. 14; Zech. xiii. 4, etc.).
Like Hhazon, except that it is not used in literary titles.
Mahhazeh appears four times: "The word of Yahaweh was unto Abra-
ham in the vision" (Gen. xv. 1 JE). Balaam habitually " saw the vision
of Shaddai, falling, and being uncovered of eyes" (Num. xxiv. 4, 16 JE).
"Have ye not seen a vain vision " (Ezek. xiii. 7).
Hhazuth, translated "vision" (Isa. xxi. 2, xxix. 11), "agreement "
(Isa. xxviii. 18), "notable horn" (Dan. viii. 5, 8).
Add to these the Aramaic noun Hhezev, occurring only in Daniel,
24 THE PROPHETS OF
The other noun translated "seer" is roeh. It is the
active participle of the verb which is in most common
Roth and its use for physical seeing. The persons who
cognates in the use of this word are called seers are
Samuel, Zadok, and Hanani (1 Sam. ix. 9 et al.; 2 Sam.
xv. 27; 2 Chron. xvi. 7, lo). The word is also used in
this sense without particularly mentioning the person
(Isa. xxx. io). As a participle the word is used dozens
of times. The stem is used hundreds of times.
The English versions make no difference in transla-
tion between this word with its cognates and hhozeh with
its cognates. For the sake of distinction, even at the
cost of somewhat ungainly English, I shall translate the
words of this stem by the English words "behold," "be-
holder," "a beholding," "appear," "appearance," "sem-
blance," reserving the words "see," "seer," "vision," for
rendering the Hebrew words of the stem hhazah.
The verb in the simple active voice is used of a per-
son beholding something, and thus receiving a revelation
from Deity. Ezekiel says : " The heavens opened them-
selves, and I beheld divine beholdings " (i. 1). Zecha-
riah says: " I lifted my eyes and beheld, and lo, four
horns " (i. 18). Jeremiah is asked: "What art thou be-
holding? "He replies: "I am beholding a pot that
boils, its face being from the direction of the north"
(i. 13).1 In the reflexive or passive stem the verb is
used of Deity appearing to men for purposes of revela-
tion. "Yahaweh appeared unto Abram;" "and Deity
appeared unto Jacob again;" "Yahaweh appeared to
Solomon the second time;" "the Angel of Yahaweh
eleven times in the sense of prophetic vision, and once (vii. 20) in the
sense of outward appearance.
1 See also Isa. xxx. 10; Dan. viii. 2, x. 8, etc., and the construct infini-
tive in 2 Chron. xxvi. 5.
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 25
appeared" unto Moses at the burning bush (Gen. xii.
7, xvii. 1, xviii. 1, xxxv. I, 9; I Ki. ix. 2; Ex. iii. 2).
In the causative-active stem the verb is used of Deity,
causing one to behold something that constitutes a divine
revelation. Amos says: "Thus the Lord Yahaweh
caused me to behold, and lo, he formed locusts." Again
he says: "Thus the Lord Yahaweh caused me to be-
hold, and lo, he called to contend by fire." And again :
"Thus he caused me to behold, and lo, the Lord stood
beside a plumb wall, with a plumbline in his hand "
(vii. I, 4, 7). Jeremiah says: "Yahaweh caused me to
behold, and lo, two baskets of figs" (xxiv. I). Finally,
there are two nouns from this causative stem, a mascu-
line, mareh, and a feminine, marah (mar-eh and mar-ah),
which denote either the divine process of causing one to
behold, or the human act of beholding so caused, or the
object which one is thus made to behold.1
1 These nouns start in usage as the hiphil participle, "causing to be-
hold," either in the sense of giving one power to behold or in that of an
object presenting itself to be beheld, and thus causing one to behold it.
Once the feminine noun denotes mirrors (Ex. xxxviii. 8). A mirror
causes one to behold, in the sense of enabling one to see what would other-
wise be invisible. Elsewhere the noun is used only of revelations from
Deity. It can always be translated, though in some instances awkwardly,
by the English noun "beholding," denoting either the divine enabling or
the human act or the object beheld. The object is thought of as either
really or ideally presented to the eye. The following are the instances: —
"And Deity said to
"In the beholding I will make myself known unto him ; in the dream I
will speak with him "(Num. xii. 6 E).
"Samuel being afraid to declare the beholding unto Eli" (I Sam. iii.
"The heavens were opened, and I beheld beholdings from Deity"
(Ezek. i. I).
"A spirit . . . brought me in
ity" (Ezek. viii. 3).
"With beholdings from Deity he brought me in unto the land of
26 THE PROPHETS OF
The nature of the functions denoted in these two
groups of words is reserved for a future chapter. For the
The uses of present we note that the words of the two stems
raah and are not properly interchangeable. At first
hhazah sight, especially in the book of Daniel, the words
of one stem seem to be confused with those of the other,
but closer examination shows that this is not the case.
"Beholdings like the appearance which I had beheld" (Ezek. xliii. 3).
See below under mareh.
Mareh, the masculine noun, is more widely used than its feminine. It
appears participially, for example, " all that I am causing thee to behold "
(Ex. xxv. 9; Ezek. xl. 4). Most commonly, however, it is a substantive,
denoting the external aspect of persons or things, their looks, semblance,
appearance. Like marah it implies either a real or an ideal presentation
to the eye, or to the other senses. It is oftener translated by " appearance"
than by any other word. In cases of revelation from Deity it has four
different meanings. First, it has its usual signification, denoting the looks
of anything. Second, it denotes an apparition, a visible semblance, of
some particular person or thing. Third, it denotes more generally a mani-
festation or disclosure coming from Deity to a man. Fourth, it is some-
times used in the sense of marah.
The first and third of these meanings are illustrated in the following
"And the appearance of the appearance which I beheld was as the ap-
pearance which I had beheld at my coming in to destroy the city; and
[there were] beholdings like the appearance which Thad beheld at the
of this becomes clear if we translate: "And the aspect of the manifesta-
tions which I beheld was like that of the manifestations which I had beheld
at my coming in to destroy the city; and [there were] beholdings like the
manifestations which I had beheld," etc.
The following are additional instances of the third meaning. In each
case notice that the word " appearance" denotes a manifestation, a dis-
closure, from Deity.
"That I may behold this great appearance" (Ex. iii. 3 E). Burning
"And the appearance of the glory of Yahaweh as devouring fire at the
head of the mountain" (Ex. xxiv. iq P).
"There used to be over the mishkan as it were an appearance of fire,
. . and an appearance of fire by night" (Num. ix. 15–16 P).
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 27
For example, the verb hhazah never has mareh or marah
as its object. When this verb is used of the seeing of
a vision, the word for vision is always of its own stem.
"Mouth unto mouth I speak with him, and an appearance, and not in
riddles" (Num. xii. 8 E). In contrast with nzarah of ver. 6.
"The glory of the God of Israel, according to the appearance which I
beheld " (Ezek. viii. 4).
"And a spirit lifted me up and
brought me in at
iles, in the appearance, by the Spirit of Deity; and the appearance which
I beheld went up from upon me" (Ezek. xi. 24).
The second of the four meanings is frequent, and may be illustrated by
the following instances. In some cases there may be room for doubt as
between the second, third, and fourth meanings. Using the English word
"appearance " for each, there is room for difference of judgment as to the
meaning of the word.
"According to the appearance which Yahaweh made Moses behold',
(Num. viii. 4 P). Is the "pattern" here a semblance, or a divine mani-
"And his face according to the semblance of lightning" (Dan. x. 6).
"And lo, there stood before me as it were the semblance of a person"
(Dan. viii. 15). See also Ezek. i. 26, 27, viii. 2, 4.
In the book of Daniel the distinction between mareh and nzarah is not
so consistently maintained as elsewhere. In the following instances I trans-
late the masculine noun by "appearance," and the feminine by " behold-
ing"; but the two alike denote a manifestation or disclosure by Deity.
"Gabriel, make this man to understand the appearance " (viii. 16).
"He understood the word, and had understanding as to the appear-
ance " (x. i).
"And the appearance concerning the evenings and the mornings, as
bath been said, is truth ; and as for thee, close thou up the vision, because
it is for many days " (viii. 26). The reference here is to what has been
said concerning the "vision" and the 2300 "evening-mornings" (vv.
"And I was astonished concerning the appearance" (27).
"And to understand the matter, and to give understanding in regard
to the appearance " (ix. 23).
"And I Daniel myself alone beheld the beholding, while the men who
were with me beheld not the beholding" (x. 7).
"And I beheld this great beholding" (x. 8).
" My lord, at the beholding my pangs are turned upon me, and I retain
no strength" (x. 16).
28 THE PROPHETS OF
The verb raah, however, a few times takes as its object
a word of the stem hhazah. "Your young men shall
behold visions " (Joel ii. 28 [iii. 1]). " As I Daniel was
beholding the vision " (Dan. viii. 15). In this context
in Daniel the reflexive voice of raah is also used with
derivatives of hhazah. "A vision appeared unto me
. . . after the one that had appeared unto me at the be-
ginning " (viii. I). But these expressions are explained
by the parallel expression, " I beheld in vision " (viii. 2)
2, ix. 21), and also by the use of the nouns in these chap-
ters of Daniel. Hhazon here denotes the whole transac-
tion (viii. I, 2, 2, 13, 15, 17, iX. 2I, X. 14, xi 14). It is
something that can be put into written form, and sealed
or closed up (ix. 24, viii. 26). Mareh and marah, on the
other hand, designate certain parts of the transaction,
parts that may be thought of as presented to the eye
(viii. 15, 16, 26, 27, X. 1, 6, 18, 7, 7, 8, 16). The use of
the verbs is quite congruous with this. It is everywhere
true that the words of the raah stem imply the possi-
bility of presentation to the eye or to the senses, while
those of the hhazah stem are capable of being used inde-
pendently of that implication, in the sense of insight or
reflection or other mental processes, as distinguished
from physical seeing.1 It further illustrates the differ-
ence to observe that the derivatives of hhazah are fre-
quently employed, as we have seen, in the literary titles
of the prophetic writings, but the words from raah
The phrase "man of God," ish elohim, ish haelohim,
occurs often in the Old Testament as the equivalent of
nabhi, and is probably never employed except in this
1 The cases in which a preposition is used with a noun of either stem,
forming the phrase " in vision," afford no additional instance that is signifi-
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 29
use. Moses is many times called a man of God (e.g.
Deut. xxxiii. i; Josh. xiv. 6; i Chron. xxiii. 14).1 So are
Samuel and Shemaiah and David and Elijah and Elisha
and many others (1 Sam. ix. 6, 7, etc.; i Ki. Man of God
xii. 22, etc.; 2 Chron. viii. 14, etc.; 2 Ki. i. 9,
io, etc.; 2 Ki. iv. 7, etc., and concordance). The Angel
that appeared to Manoah and his wife is by them
described as a man of God (Jud. xiii. 6, 8, JE). The
person who spoke against Jeroboam's altar (called Jadon
by Josephus, probably "Jedo the seer" of 2 Chron. ix.
29) is several times called "man of God," and once
"prophet" (1 Ki. xiii. 1, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, etc., and 18, 23),
while the term "prophet" is uniformly used of the
resident prophet who brought him back (11, 18, 20,
Corresponding in form to the phrase "man of God "
is the phrase "word of Yahaweh," d'bhar yahaweh,
the usual designation for a message given Word of
by Deity to or through a man endowed with Yahaweh
the prophetic gift. " The word of Yahaweh came unto
Abraham in a vision " (Gen. xv. 1, 4 E). Moses is rep-
resented as saying: "I stood between Yahaweh and
you at that time, to tell to you the word of Yahaweh"
v. 5). Isaiah says: "Out of
and the word of, Yahaweh from
The phrase appears in the titles of prophetic books:
"The word of Yahaweh that came to Micah" (Mic.
i. I). It is habitually used for opening the prophetic
narratives: "The word of Yahaweh came unto Jonah";
"the word of Yahaweh came unto Jonah the second
time" (Jon. i. I, iii. I). The phrase is probably never
employed in any other meaning, and at least this is its
1 The new tradition assigns Deut. xxxiii to a date earlier than J or E,
and Josh. xiv. 6 sq. to JE.
30 THE PROPHETS OF
ordinary use.1 The parallel term "word of God,"
d'bhar elohim, or d'bhar haelohim, sometimes occurs,
though but seldom.
Cognate with this are the phrases of asseveration,
amar yahaweh and n'um yahaweh, each occurring hun-
Saith dreds of times, and in our versions both trans-
Yahaweh lated " saith Jehovah." Both are commonly,
perhaps exclusively, applied to prophetic utterances (e.g.
Jer. ii. 2, 5, iv. 3 and i. 8, 15, 19), though it is in many
cases doubtful whether amar yahaweh is used as an as-
severation or as giving a mere statement of fact. In
asseverations of this kind the word elohim, "God,"
"Deity," is not often used, except in combination with
other words. The different expression yomar yahaweh,
“Yahaweh is saying,” sometimes appears (e.g. Isa. i.
11, 18, xxxiii. 10, xl. I), though it is not distinctively
translated in the English versions. In numberless in-
stances we find the merely descriptive statement that
Yahaweh, or Deity, spake, or said.
As the prophetic gift is constantly represented as
bestowed by the Spirit of Yahaweh (I Ki. xviii. 12;
Man of the Isa. lxiii. 10, 11; Joel ii. 28–29; 2 Chron.
Spirit xv. I; Num. xi. 25-29, etc.), the prophet is
very naturally designated by the descriptive phrase
"the man of the Spirit" (Hos. ix. 7).
prophecy of a certain kind, from the days of Elisha,
and later. A
always relatively brief. Jehu is represented as saying
to Bidkar his captain that Yahaweh had "lifted up this
burden" upon Ahab: —
1 For additional instances see Isa. i. 10; i Ki. xvii. 2, 8, 16, 24; i Sam.
iii. I, 21, xv. 23, 26; Ex. ix. 20, 21, and concordance.
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 31
"Surely the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons
I beheld yesterday, so saith Yahaweh!
And I will make requital to thee
in this plat, so saith Yahaweh!"
Jehu mentions this as a reason for casting the corpse
of Ahab's son, whom he has just slain, into the plat of
Naboth (2 Ki. ix. 25-26). In Isaiah, the "Burden of
(xiii. 1, xv. 1, xvii. 1), are poems of threatening upon
those countries. The instances of "burdens " are nu-
merous (e.g. Ezek. xii. 10; Nah. i. i; Zech. ix. 1, xii. i;
Mal. i. 1; Isa. xiv. 28; 2 Chron. xxiv. 27 and concord-
ance). In Prov. xxx. 1, xxxi. 1, where the poems are
minatory, the King James's version translates
in the title by "prophecy." The revised version every-
where proposes "oracle " as the alternative translation
22, 27, to denote the singing when David brought the
nature of its use in matters prophetic.
Certain forms of the causative-active stem of nataph
are sometimes applied to prophetic utterance. The
verb means to drip, to fall'' in drops, as in Hittiph,
the case of drippings of honey, or a gentle mattiph
shower. When used of human speech (Prov. v. 3;
Cant. iv. 11; Job xxix. 22) the idea seems to be that of
sweet or smooth or persuasive talk. When the words
of this stem are applied to prophets (Am. vii. 16; Mic.
ii. 6, 11; Ezek. xx. 46 and xxi. 2 [xxi. 2, 7], they can
be forcibly translated by the English words "preach,"
"preacher." In Micah ii these words seem to be used
by enemies, and ironically.
“Preach ye not! They will be preaching! They shall not preach
to these! One never ceaseth uttering reproaches!"
32 THE PROPHETS OF
And a few verses farther on appears this statement:
" If a man going in wind and falsehood has lyingly said, I will
preach for thee of wine and of strong drink, then he will become the
preacher of this people " (Mic. ii. 6, i 1).1
A prophet is also sometimes called an angel of
Yahaweh (e.g. Hag. i. 13), or a shepherd or a servant
Metaphor- Or a watchman, or by other like names ; but
ical terms these terms are properly figures of speech
rather than appellations. Other like forms of expres-
sion might be added.
Three general observations are to be made in regard
to the use of these several terms in the Old Testament
— observations that are equally true whether we apply
them to the history or to the records that contain the
history, and in the main equally true whether we follow
the old tradition concerning the dates of the records, or
follow some form of the newer tradition.
In the first place, there is no definite succession of
dates at which the various terms describing the prophets
The several come successively into use. In a general
terms not sense it is true that all the principal terms
confined to are employed in all parts of the record.
particular One critic may infer from this that the prophetic
dates phenomena were practically all in existence
before the earliest records were written; and another
may account for it by some theory of interpolation into
the records by later writers; but in any case the fact
exists. It is true that particular words have a limited
range of use. For example, roeh in the sense of seer
1 The English words " prophet," " prophesy," " prophecy," are used in
the King James or the revised versions to translate hittiph in this passage,
words in Isa. xxx. lo. Elsewhere they are restricted in these versions to
words of the stem nabha.
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 33
appears only in the literature treating of the times from
Samuel to Isaiah ; while hhozeh first appears in the
history of David, and may possibly be said to supersede
roeh for the later times. In the time of Samuel roeh
was the appellative in common use in place of nabhi
Sam. ix. 9, I0, II, cf. x. 5, IO, II, I2, I3).
appears only from the time of Elisha and onward. But
it is doubtful how far an absence of these terms from
any part of the Old Testament is really significant.
Their not being used in the writings which we have
for any period does not necessarily prove that they were
at that time unknown. And one may see, by running
over the references given in this chapter, that the
phrase " man of God " is applied to Moses, and to other
men from his time on ; and that the phrase " word of Yaha-
weh," with words of the stems nabha, raah, and hhazah,
are used in describing divine revelations to men from
the times of Abraham. And these several terms are in
frequent use, not only in those parts of the Old Testa-
ment which the critics of the Modern View regard as of
relatively late origin, but in those which they assign to
the times of Amos and Hosea and earlier. For example,
the references include passages from those parts of the
book of Judges that are regarded by the men of the new
tradition as early, and also passages from those parts of
the hexateuch which they assign to J or E or J E or
independent early sources. Follow what critical theory
you please, there is a somewhat extensive vocabulary of
prophetic terms from a time as early as the earliest sur-
viving records of the earliest times in Israelitish history.
Further, it is in general true that the terms we have
been considering are interchangeable, so far as their
application to any given person is concerned. Each
term has of course its own differential meaning. The
34 THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL
terms differ in meaning when they denote the functions
of the prophet. The seers seem to be distinguished
The personal from the beholders. As we have seen above,
terms all applicable the men who are spoken of by name as seers
to the same are different men from those who are spoken
person of as beholders. Samuel the beholder is spe-
cifically distinguished from Gad the seer, and beholders
in general are distinguished from seers in general
(i Chron. xxix. 29; Isa. xxx. 10). But Samuel was both
a roeh and a nabhi. Gad was both a hhozeh and a
nabhi (i Sam. xxii. 5 ; 2 Sam. xxiv. i r, etc.). So was
Amos (Am. vii. 12-16). So probably was Jehu, the son
of Hanani (r Ki. xvi. 7, 12, etc., cf. 2 Chron. xix. 2), the
alternative being that Hanani was both roeh and hhozeh
(2 Chron. xvi. 7, 10, cf. xix. 2). With perhaps some limi-
tation in the case of roeh and hhozeh, a person who was
regarded as having certain supernatural gifts was called
indifferently man of God, prophet, seer, beholder. One
term may have been at certain times current, rather than
another, the term roeh, for example, just before the pro-
phetic revival under Samuel, but all four of the terms
were current from very early times. The permanent
differences between the terms were differences in the
form of the thought, and not in the person designated.
Finally, it should be noted that these several terms
are used in the Old Testament with different degrees of
What is com- comprehension. First, they are applied to
prehended in persons who are better known as prophets
the terms than in any other capacity, for example, Sam-
uel or Elisha or Jeremiah or Isaiah. Such prophets were
also eminent as judges, priests, statesmen, and the like;
but the mention of any one of these names suggests to
us the services of the man as a prophet, rather than in
any other capacity. Second, the terms are applied to
TERMS USED IN DESCRIBING THE PROPHETS 35
persons who are better known in some other capacity
than as prophets, but who exercised prophetic gifts.
Some of these, as Moses the lawgiver or David the
king, stand very high in the prophetic ranks. By
parity the character of prophet belongs to other men of
like position, for example, such men as Joshua and Solo-
mon and Ezra and Nehemiah. It will sometimes be
convenient, for distinction's sake, to call such men pro-
phetic men, rather than prophets. That is partly a
question of convenience in the use of language. But
when we are discussing the prophets as a subject, we
must take into the account all persons who have the
prophetic character. Third, the terms are applied to
persons who were prophets only in a secondary sense,
to the pupils or disciples or assistants of the men who
were strictly prophets. As we advance in our study we
shall find much said concerning certain prophetic "com-
panies," and certain so-called "sons of the prophets,"
men who were banded together into organizations under
such great prophets as Samuel or Elijah, men who were
recognized as disciples of such a prophet as Isaiah. A
person of this type may naturally be spoken of as a
prophet or a man of God, especially when he is sent by
his superior on some prophetic errand. The secondary
prophets were at times much more numerous than the
primary prophets, and it sometimes becomes important
to distinguish between the two.
In addition to these uses, many assert that the words
that denote the prophet and his functions are also used
to denote mere frenzied utterance, and that primarily
the prophetic gift is conceived of as a kind of insanity.
We shall find that there is no ground for this, and that
herein there is a difference between the prophets of
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS
THIS subject, though we must dismiss it with a single
chapter, is a fascinating one. Some of the older treat-
The attrac- ments of it are dull through the lack of
tiveness of imagination, or through the wrong use of
the subject imagination. They regard the prophets as
unearthly revealers of the divine will, with no human
blood in them. Some of the more recent treatments are
yet more faulty, rejecting half the biblical data, filling
in the gaps thus made from conjecture or by inference
from theory, and thus giving portraits utterly different
from those in the bible, and immeasurably inferior. In
contrast with both these modes of treatment would be
that of one who should simply take the trouble to find
out just what the biblical statements mean, using his
imagination only to render the facts distinct and vivid.
What we need is a treatment at once correct and im-
aginative. Why does not some one write a history of
prophets, working it up, not from Bible Dictionaries,
not from volumes, not from Josephus, not from com-
mentaries, not from theories of the evolution of religion,
but purely from the data given in the bible ? There are
no heroes in history more picturesque or interesting or
full of vitality than these same prophets, provided we
picture them rightly.
Many of the books of reference affirm that the succes-
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 37
sion of the prophets began with Samuel. In proof they
cite passages from the Acts and from I Samuel. But
the context in Samuel, as we shall see below, The division
implies that prophecy was previously in exist- into periods
ence, and that in the Acts affirms that prophecy had
been in existence from the days of Moses, and, indeed,
from the beginning of the world.1 Other parts of
the record give details in abundance. Certainly the
biblical view is that what occurred in Samuel's time
was not an origination but a revival. There was
then a new beginning in the progress of an ancient
The biblical presentation of the history of the prophets
is in very clearly marked chronological periods. The
first great period, that before Samuel, includes as sub-
ordinate periods the pre-Abrahamic times, the patriar-
chal times, the times of the exodus, and the times of the
Judges before Samuel. The prophets of the second
great period, from Samuel to the close of the Old Testa-
ment, fall into six groups, namely, the group in which
Samuel and Nathan and David were eminent, the
Elijah and Elisha group, the Isaiah group, the Jeremiah
group, the exilian prophets, and the postexilian prophets.
Then any survey of these two great periods is incom-
plete unless supplemented by obtaining, in part from
1"Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after
.. . told of these days" (Acts iii. 24). It is easy to understand this as
affirming that Samuel was the earliest prophet, but the immediate con-
text shows that the writer intended no such meaning. Only a few sen-
tences previously he has used this language: "The times of restoration of
all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which
have been since the world began." Moses indeed said: "A prophet shall
the Lord God raise up unto you . . . like unto me " (Acts iii. 21-22, cf. vii.
37; Lc. i. 70). With this agrees the New Testament mention of the pro-
phetic gift in the times of Balaam and of Enoch (2 Pet. ii. 16; Jude 14).
38 THE PROPHETS OF
extrabiblical sources, some account of the closing of the
succession of the prophets.l
I. We take up the first great period. The Old Tes-
tament agrees with the New in representing that the
patriarchs exercised prophetic gifts; that such gifts were
abundant in the time of Moses, and that they continued
during the time between Moses and Samuel.
Books on the subject have been very free in ascribing
prophetic phenomena to the times before Abraham.
Prophecy Jude says that Enoch prophesied (14), and in
before Luke and the Acts it is affirmed that there
Abraham have been holy prophets from the beginning
of the world (Lc. i. 70; Acts iii. 21). Parts of the
first eleven chapters of Genesis have figured largely in
discussions concerning prophecy ; for example, the pro-
tevangelium, the sacrifice of Abel, some of the experi-
ences of Noah (Gen. iii. 15, iv, vi—ix, and New Testament
parallels). Something very like prophetic character
has been attributed to Adam, Seth, Enoch, Abel, Noah,
and others. Any detailed consideration of these mat-
ters belongs to a later stage in our investigation. For
the present it is sufficient to note that the various terms
denoting prophetic function are not used in the accounts
of the times before Abraham; but that there is nothing
to forbid the opinion that the writers of these accounts
1 The biblical account seems to be that with Samuel there began cer-
tain arrangements for cultivating the prophetic gift, which, thenceforward
to the close of the Old Testament times, secured a more abundant succes-
sion of prophets than had previously existed. If we distinguish between
prophets and prophetic men, applying the latter term to men who had
prophetic gifts, but are better known in some other capacity, the great
names before Samuel are of prophetic men only. It further happens to
be true that the Old Testament books called the Prophets, in distinction
from the Law and the Hagiographa, are ascribed in the traditions to the
prophets of Samuel's time and later, while the Law and the Hagiographa
are ascribed, in the main, to prophetic men.
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 39
thought of pre-Abrahamic men as possessing prophetic
Old Testament history, however, properly begins with
Abraham. From Abraham onward the Israelite litera-
ture is familiar with the distinctive titles and duties and
powers that belong to a prophet.
It is represented that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob
had prophetic gifts, though this representation is not
very greatly emphasized. Abraham is once The patri-
expressly called a prophet. In the time when archs were
he led a migratory life, going from one coun- prophets
try to another, we are told that Abimelech took posses-
sion of Abraham's wife. To him a revelation was
"And now, restore thou the wife of the man, for he is a prophet,
that he may make his prayer in thy behalf," etc. (Gen. xx. 7 E).
One of the psalmists, centuries later, cites this incident
in the following lines : —
"And they went about from nation unto nation,
from one kingdom unto another people.
He suffered no man to wrong them,
and he rebuked kings for their sakes:
Touch ye not mine anointed ones,
and to my prophets do ye no harm."
(Ps. cv. 14-15, repeated in t Chron. xvi. 20-22.)
In addition to this one instance in which the word
"prophet " is used, it is represented that Abraham had
visions, and that the word of Yahaweh came to him in
1 One who accepts the Graf-Wellhausen analysis should observe that the
passages which have commonly been cited as prophetic occur alike in the
earlier and the later J and in P, though with characteristic differences.
On any critical theory it is probable that all the authors of Genesis, earlier
or later, thought of the prophetic gift as current among these predecessors
40 THE PROPHETS OF
vision (Gen. xv. I, 4 E). A very prominent part of his
experiences consists in those when Yahaweh " appeared "
"And Yahaweh appeared unto him at the oaks of Mamre," fol-
lowed by extended details (xviii..i J).
It is further represented that Isaac and Jacob had simi-
lar experiences. Yahaweh appeared unto Isaac, for-
him to go down into
done ; and again appeared to him, promising to bless
and multiply him (Gen. xxvi. 2, 24 D. Jacob had a
prophetic dream, wherein the Angel of God commanded
to return to
to him at
"God spake unto
Look up these instances in detail, and it will be evident
that the patriarchs are here represented as having per-
sonal interviews with the supreme Being, essentially the
same as were enjoyed by the prophets of later times.
This is not a matter which depends wholly on the
critical theories one may hold. If the hexateuch was
written by Moses and Joshua and their associates, then
we have the testimony of that generation to the facts in
the case. But how is it on the theory of those who
analyze Genesis into the three documents, J and E and
P, dated respectively 800, 750, and 400 B.C.? On the
basis of their partition some of the passages that have
1 For example, at
his first coming to
"Yahaweh appeared unto Abram, and said, To thy seed will I give this
land. And he built there an altar to Yahaweh that appeared unto him"
(Gen. xii. 7 J).
"And Yahaweh appeared unto Abram, and said unto him, I am El-
shaddai" (Gen. xvii. 1 P [RP?]).
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 41
been cited are taken from J, some from E, and some
from P. That is, all three alike testify to the prophetic
gifts of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It is not unim-
portant which theory of the hexateuch we hold; but on
any theory the oldest Hebrew literature testifies to the
view we are advocating.
In the records of the times of Moses and Joshua
the mention of prophecy is very abundant. In the
account of the exodus, for example, the stem Prophecy in the
nabha occurs seventeen times, and the other time of Moses and
terms that denote prophetic phenomena are Joshua
much used. Instances will presently be given. Per-
haps we habitually think of Moses as a statesman, a
warrior, a lawgiver but, none the less, the record says
that he was remarkably endowed with the prophetic
gift. He is described as the greatest of prophets.1
He is frequently spoken of, both in the hexateuch and
elsewhere, as "the man of God " (e.g. Deut. xxxiii. i;
Josh. xiv. 6; Ezra iii. 2; I Chron. xxiii. 14; 2 Chron. xxx.
16). He has the various experiences that characterize
a prophet. Habitually he has supernatural communica-
tion with God. Yahaweh appeared unto him (Ex. iii. 2,
16, and many places). Yahaweh caused him to see in
the prophetic sense (Ex. xxvii. 8; Num. viii. 4 et al.).
Using words of the stem raah, the beholding of visions
is attributed to Moses (Num. xii. 8; Ex. iii. 3). In cer-
tain instances presently to be cited, he is the typical
prophet with whom others are compared. The prophet
who is to be raised up he describes as "like unto me."
Yahaweh enables other men to prophesy by taking of
1 "There arose not a
prophet since in
And by a prophet Yahaweh brought up
prophet he was guarded" (Hos. xii. 13 ).
42 THE PROPHETS OF
the Spirit that was upon Moses and placing it upon
them. He is so superior to other prophets as to be
fairly in contrast with them.
The records represent that Moses was not the only
prophet of this period. We read that " Miriam the
prophetess took a timbrel in her hand," and celebrated
overthrow of Pharaoh at the
Miriam appears again in the narrative in which she and
Aaron find fault with Moses on account of the Ethiopian
woman. Yahaweh rebukes them, in language that im-
plies that Miriam is a prophet with whom Yahaweh
communicates in beholdings or in dreams, and that per-
sons of this sort were not unfamiliar to that generation
of Israelites.1 This same fact of the multiplication of
prophecy appears in the story of the prophesying of
Eldad and Medad and the seventy, and in the wish then
expressed by Moses that all Yahaweh's people were
1 "If there be a prophet of you,
I Yahaweh make myself known unto him in beholdings,
in dreams I speak with him.
Not so is my servant Moses,
in all my house he is trustworthy.
Mouth unto mouth I speak with him,
even causing him to behold, and not enigmatically,
and the likeness of Yahaweh he gazeth upon " (Num. xii. 6—8 E).
It is not implied here that Moses has a different gift from the prophetic
gift of Miriam and Aaron, but that he has prophetic seeing power in a
much higher degree than they.
2 "And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and made
them stand around the Tent. And Yahaweh came down in the cloud, and
spake unto him, and took of the Spirit which was upon hire and gave it
upon seventy men, the elders. And it came to pass, as the Spirit rested
upon them, that they prophesied, and did no more. And there remained
two men in the camp, the name of the one being Eldad, and the name
of the second Medad; and the Spirit rested upon them, they being among
those who were written, and they not having gone forth to the Tent; and
they prophesied in the camp. And the young man ran and told Moses,
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 43
Besides these passages, in which certain persons are
spoken of as prophets, there are others which make
such mention of prophetic functions as to imply that
prophets were something well known in that generation.
Words of the stem hhazah are less used in the records
for this period than in those of later periods. But it is
of the elders of
"They had vision of Deity, and did eat and drink " (Ex. xxiv.
And it is represented that Balaam twice describes
himself as —
"He that heareth the sayings of El,
That seeth the vision of the Almighty,
Having fallen, and his eyes having become uncovered" (Num.
xxiv. 4, i6 JE).
Whatever the date of the book of Job, its action is
located in the time of the exodus or earlier. It affords
such instances as the following : —
“In thoughts from the visions of the night" (iv. 13).
"Thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me with visions "
"He shall be chased away as a vision of the night" (xx. 8).
Passing to the use of other terms, the relations of
Aaron to Moses are defined in the words: —
"Behold I have given thee for a Deity unto Pharaoh, Aaron
thy brother being thy prophet" (Ex. vii. i P).
Such language presupposes familiarity with the notion
of a prophet, and of the relations he sustains to Deity.
In Deuteronomy laws are given formally defining the
and said, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp. And answered
Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, of his choice young men,
and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said to him, Art thou
jealous for me? Would that all Yahaweh's people were prophets! that
Yahaweh would give his Spirit upon them!" (Num. xi. 24—29 JE).
44 THE PROPHETS OF
character of a prophet, prescribing how true prophets
are to be distinguished from false, forecasting a line
of prophets to come (xiii. 1, 3, 5 [2, 4, 6], xviii. 15, 18,
20, 22). There is no need here to consider these pas-
sages at length. They will be discussed when we reach
the subjects of the functions of a prophet and of mes-
In these several passages a prophet is defined, as we
have seen, as a spokesman of Deity, divinely inspired
through visions, dreams, trances, divine appearings.
These affirmations are found not merely in the narrative
portions of the books, but in the statements which the
books say were made by the persons whose history they
narrate. Their validity depends not at all, directly, on
the question who wrote the pentateuchal books. If the
books are historically true, then the statements are true,
no matter when they were written in their present form.
And even from the point of view of those who regard
them as unhistorical, they testify to what their authors
believed to be true of the times of Moses. Further,
our citations have been made indifferently from sections
which the critical hypotheses ascribe to J, E, JE, P, and
D. If there were authors of all these classes, then all
alike agree in affirming that prophecy was abundant in
the days of Moses.
For the times from the settlement of
to the birth of Samuel the mention of prophecy in the
Prophecy in narratives is relatively unusual; but the
the times of stream of prophecy through this region of
the Judges the history is perceptible though slender.
Deborah is called a prophetess (Jud. iv. 4). Perhaps
we may be at a loss whether to classify her as a states-
man sometimes acting the part of a prophet, or as a
prophet sometimes doing the duty of a statesman.
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 45
Gideon and others are occasionally represented as hold-
ing communication with God, such as a prophet might
hold. We are told of a prophet whom Yahaweh sent
have a record in three verses of his prophecy. We
are told of the appearing of the Angel of Yahaweh
to Gideon (Jud. vi. 12) and to Manoah and his wife
(Jud. xiii. 3, 10, 21). Few instances of theophany in
the bible are presented with as much fulness of detail
as these two. "The Angel," in the book of Judges,
is always a supernatural being, and not a prophet.
This is particularly the case with the Angel who ap-
peared to the wife of Manoah, and afterward to her and
Manoah, announcing the birth of Samson. But, four
times in the narrative, they speak of him as a " man of
God " ( Jud. xiii. 6, 8, 10, 11 ). Evidently a man of God,
a prophet, was a well-known fact within the range of
In the time of Eli, just at the close of this period,
the dearth of prophecy was deepest.
"The word of Yahaweh being precious in those days, there being
no widespread vision" (i Sam. iii. I).
These words affirm that prophecy had then nearly dis-
statement concerning the recognition of Samuel.
Samuel was made sure for a prophet to Yahaweh. And again
From these statements it has been inferred that there
no prophecy in
ence differs from the representations of the In the time
bible. If the passage last cited implies that of Eli
the wealth of prophecy which came in with Samuel was
46 THE PROPHETS OF
in contrast with the poverty which directly preceded, it
equally implies that there had been an earlier time
Yahaweh appeared in
word. The other passage says that prophecy was at
that time a rare thing, not that it was nonexistent.
From the context we learn that it was not nonexistent.
We are told of a "man of God " who came to Eli with
just such a message as prophets are accustomed to
bring.1 Further, we are told that Eli was sufficiently
familiar with the idea of prophetic function to recog-
nize the nature of Samuel's call when it came to him.2
In fine, the history of the times of the Judges justifies
the assertion of Jeremiah: —
"Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of
prophets, daily rising up early and sending them" (vii. 25 RV).
So much for the first great period of the history of proph-
ecy. Besides other statements in other terms, the words
"prophet" and "prophesy" are applied not less than
twenty-four times, in the Old Testament, to the period
before the death of Eli.3 And let us once more remind
ourselves that this is the testimony of the records irre-
spective of the question when or by whom the records
were written. Assuredly, if a person is in the habit
1 "And there came a man of God unto Eli and said unto him, I surely
myself unto the house of thy father when they were in
etc. (I Sam. ii. 27-36).
2 Of Samuel it is said that he, being an inexperienced boy, "did not yet
know," that "the word of Yahaweh was not yet disclosed unto him."But
Eli was older and more experienced. "And Yahaweh again called Sam-
uel the third time, and he arose and went unto Eli, and said, Here am I
for thou calledst me; and Eli understood that Yahaweh was calling the
boy. And Eli said to Samuel, Go, lie down, and it shall be, if he call unto
thee thou shalt say, Speak, Yahaweh, for thy servant is hearkening"
(i Sam. iii. 7-9).
3 As we shall presently see, there is in this nothing contradictory of
I Sam. ix. 9.
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 47
of designating certain parts of the hexateuch and of
Judges and Samuel as J and E, and of saying that J and
E are "prophetic" narratives, that person is precluded
from denying that these narratives recognize a prophetic
element in the history. And if he admits that these
writings which he regards as the earliest testify to the
existence of prophets in this part of the history, he must
all the more admit that what he regards as the later
parts of the record testify to the same fact. Any one
who reads the writings without thus dividing them into
earlier and later sections, will find the same testimony
there. In other words, there is a consensus of testi-
mony among the writers of the Old Testament, no mat-
ter how you regard them critically, to the effect that
II. In the second great period of the history of the
prophets, the first subordinate period is that in which
Samuel and Nathan and David are proms- Prophecy in
nent. Its natural limits are from the death of the times of Samuel,
Eli to the disruption of the kingdom after David, and
Solomon. The chronology is in dispute, but Nathan
the biblical numbers make it about one hundred and
The distinguished prophets named in the record for
this period are Samuel and Gad and Nathan, David and
Solomon, Zadok, Asaph and Heman and
Ethan or Jeduthun, Ahijah and Shemaiah and The prophets
Jedo. The easiest and most effective way of obtaining
information concerning these men would be to look
them up, with the aid of a concordance, in the Old
Testament. In this chapter we must dismiss them with
just a few sentences.
Samuel is the earliest and, with the exception of
David, the most distinguished great prophet of this
THE PROPHETS OF
time. His career is too well known to need recapitula-
tion here. Gad was associated with David from the time
when David first became an outlaw to near the close of
the reign. It was by his advice that David chose his
places within the borders of
prophet consulted when
was purchased, and the temple site fixed (i Sam.
xxii. 5; 2 Sam. xxiv. 11ff.; I Chron. xxi. 9 ff.).
Nathan first appears in the middle years of David's
reign, rebuking him for his sin in the matter of Uriah;
and, later,1 as the prophet through whom the great
promise was given to David, in response to David's dis-
position to build a temple (2 Sam. xii ; Ps. li, title; 2
Sam. vii; I Chron. xvii). Still later Nathan figures as
the strong supporter of the claims of Solomon to the
throne (I Ki. i). The Chronicler groups David and Gad
and Nathan, and refers to "the words" of Samuel and
of Gad and of Nathan as written sources for the history
of David and of the times before him (r Chron. xxix. 29;
2 Chron. xxix. 25).
David is spoken of as a "man of God," upon whom
the Spirit came mightily, to whom Yahaweh appeared
(e.g. 2 Chron. viii. 14; Neh. xii. 24, 36 ; I Sam. xvi. 13,
2 Chron. iii.
other terms he is presented to us as richly endowed
with prophetic gifts. To Solomon also prophetic reve-
lations are attributed.2
1 The affair of Uriah occurred while the Ammonite war was in progress,
before David's conquests had brought him rest. The bringing up of the
weh had given David rest from all his enemies, and when his dominions
extended from Hamath to Shihor of Egypt (2 Sam. vii. I; I Chron. xiii.
5). That is, the Uriah affair preceded the others, though it is narrated
2 "In that night
Deity appeared to Solomon." "In
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 49
Zadok, afterward highpriest, is in one passage called
a seer (2 Sam. xv. 27). In his detailed description of
the large temple choirs organized by David, the Chron-
icler speaks of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun as
prophesying, and calls Heman the hhozeh of the king.1
his account of the last reigns in
similar statements, speaking of Asaph as "the hhozeh,"
and of "Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun the hhozeh
of the king " (2 Chron. xxix. 30, xxxv. 15).
Ahijah the Shilonite, we are told, in the later years
of Solomon, promised the kingdom to Jeroboam, tear-
ing his robe into twelve pieces, and giving Jeroboam
ten. Later he gave a most uncomforting reply to
Jeroboam's queen, who sought him in behalf of her sick
son (1 Ki. xi. 29-39, xiv. 1-18). We are told of an-
prophet who came from
king, and prophesied against the altar of
and of an old prophet who entertained him (I Ki. xiii ;
2 Ki. xxiii. 17-18). Josephus says that the prophet
Jedai is mentioned (2 Chron. ix. 29), along with Ahijah
and Nathan, as a source for the history of Solomon.
The name appears as Iddo in our English versions, but
it is different from the name Iddo as elsewhere occur-
ring, and Jedo is probably the Jadon of Josephus. Be-
appeared unto Solomon in a dream by night." "And the word of Yaha-
weh was to Solomon, saying " (2 Chron. i. 7-12; I Ki. iii. 5-15, vi. 11-13,
cf. ix. 2).
1"And David and the captains of the host separated to the service the
sons of Asaph and hIeman and Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with
harps, and with cymbals . . . the sons of Asaph upon the hand of Asaph
who prophesied upon the hands of the king. To Jeduthun; the sons of
Jeduthun . . . upon the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied
with the lyre, to give thanks and to praise Yahaweh. To Heman; . . .
all these were sons to Heman the hhozeh of the king in the words of God,
to lift up horn" (i Chron. xxv. 1-5).
50 THE PROPHETS OF
longing to the same group of prophets is Shemaiah, who
forbade the attempt of Rehoboam to subdue the ten
tribes, and who encouraged Rehoboam against the inva-
sion of Shishak (I Ki. xii. 22; 2 Chron. xi. 2, xii. 7).
The Chronicler refers to him along with Iddo (probably
a much later writer) for the history of Rehoboam
These distinguished prophets, with other great men,
constituted a brilliant circle around the thrones of David
Organiza- and Solomon. But besides these there were
tions a large number of other prophets. With
Samuel, prophecy had entered upon a brighter era.
There was a great revival of prophetism. When the
writer of 1 Sam. iii. I says that during Samuel's child-
hood there was no widespread vision, he implies that
vision was widespread when he wrote. That prophets
were numerous is suggested by Saul's complaint that
Yahaweh answered him not, either "by dreams or by
Urim, or by prophets" (I Sam. xxviii. 6, 15). Promi-
nent among the evidences of the growing influence of
prophecy, at this time, are the organized bands of
prophets that present themselves to view. We find a
procession of prophets meeting Saul when Samuel had
anointed him, and a body of them engaged in concerted
services at Naioth in Ramah when David fled thither
(I Sam. x. 5 ff., xix. 18-24). The nature of these organi-
zations we are to consider later. For the present we
simply note that they are characteristic of the period.
Through the influence of Samuel, prophecy so impressed
itself upon his generation, that the impression remained
to future generations. There is no room for our being
1 In the long addition after 1 Ki. xii. 24 in the Greek copies, Shemaiah
is said to be the prophet who tore his robe into twelve pieces and gave
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 51
surprised that he is commonly regarded as the father of
In the literature concerning this period we find nearly
all the different terms that are used in the bible to
designate prophetic function, — "man of The terms
God," "word of Yahaweh," "Spirit of Yaha- that are used
weh," and the words of the stems nabha and hhazah
and raah.l On the strength of i Sam. ix. 9 many
that the word "prophet " was new in
this narrative in Samuel was written, and that neither
the word nor the fact had ever before been known.
The true inference from the biblical phenomena is that
both the institution and the word had formerly been
well known, but had temporarily faded from use, and
now reappeared.2 The statement in Samuel is: —
“He that is to-day called a prophet was formerly called a seer."
But the writer of this statement says that the word
"prophet " was in familiar use, and that prophets were
well-known personages, not merely at the time when he
1 Samuel and Zadok are called roeh (1 Sam. ix. 9, II, 18, 19; I
Chron. ix. 22, xxvi. 28, xxix. 29; 2 Sam. xv. 27). Samuel has vision,
mar’ah (I Sam. iii. 15). Theophany is frequent (e.g. 1 Ki. iii. 5, ix. 2,
The term hhozeh is applied to Gad, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, Jedo,
Iddo (2 Sam. xxiv. II; I Chron. xxi. 9, xxix. 29, xxv. 5; 2 Chron. xxxv.
15, xxix. 25, 30, ix. 29, xii. 15). Other nouns of the stem appear in I Sam.
iii. 1; 2 Sam. vii. 17; I Chron. xvii. 15; Ps. lxxxix. 19 ; 2 Chron.
ix. 29. The word hhazon first appears in I Sam. iii. 1, this being the
word that is afterward mostly used in the literary titles of the prophetic
2 The disappearance of words from use, and their subsequent reappear-
ance, is one of the familiar phenomena of language. For example, Mr.
Leon Mead is quoted as saying in his book Word Coinage that such words
as transcend, bland, sphere, blithe, franchise, carve, anthem, in good use
in Chaucer, were regarded in the seventeenth century as obsolete, but have
since been reinstated.
52 THE PROPHETS OF
wrote, but at the time concerning which he makes the
statement.1 On the very next day, this writer says,
prophets were seen, mentioned, discussed, not by
Samuel alone, but popularly. The point which he
makes is this : that though prophets and the name
were now familiar in
class who took no particular interest in them. He still
habitually used the term "seer," which had till recently
displaced the term "prophet." The writer contemplates
both the word and the fact, as a gift to
which had been interrupted but was now restored, and
not at all as a new gift which had never till now been
bestowed. In this he agrees with the writers of the
earlier history, who speak of prophets as existing at least
from the times of Abraham.
1 "And the young man . . said, Behold there is found in my hand a
quarter shekel of silver, and I will give [it] to the man of God, and he
tell us our way. (Formerly in
to inquire of God, Come ye and let us go unto the seer. For he that is to-
day called the prophet was formerly called the seer.) . . . And they went
unto the city where was the man of God. . . . And when they found young
women coming forth to draw water, they said to them, Is the seer within ?
. . . And Saul approached Samuel, . . . and said, Tell me, pray, where is
the house of the seer. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the
The next day, when the two parted, Samuel gave Saul directions.
"Thou wilt come unto the hill of God, . . . and wilt fall in with a
string of prophets coming down from the highplace, and before them
psaltery and timbrel and pipe and harp, and they prophesying. And the
Spirit of Yahaweh will come mightily upon thee, and thou wilt prophesy
with them, and wilt be turned to another man."
It happens as Samuel has said. "And they came there to the hill, and
behold a string of prophets meeting him, and the Spirit of God came
mightily upon him and he prophesied in the midst of them. And it
happened in the case of any one who knew him formerly, that they looked,
and behold he prophesied with prophets. And the people said, each to his
What is it that has happened to the son of
among the prophets ?" (1 Sam. ix. 8-11, 18-19, x. 5-6, 10-12).
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 53
The second subperiod may be designated by the
names of its two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha. It
extends from the disruption of the kingdom Prophecy
to the death of Elisha, about one hundred and from the disruption
thirty-five years by the biblical data. Its last to Elisha
fifty years correspond nearly to the earlier Assyrian
period, when Shalmanezer II and Rimman-nirari III
prophets are Ahijah and Shemaiah and Jedo, who
survive from the former period, Oded and Azariah and
Hanani and Jehu, Elijah and Elisha, Micaiah and Jahaziel
and Eliezer, Jehoiada and Zechariah.
Oded and Azariah his son urged Asa to reforma-
tion work, after his victory over Zerah the Ethiopian
(2 Chron. xv. I, 8). Hanani the reek rebuked Asa for
his intrigues with Ben-hadad, and was imprisoned
(2 Chron. xvi. 7-10). "Jehu the son of Hanani the
hhozeh," elsewhere described as "Jehu the prophet,"
prophesied against Baasha of Israel (I Ki. xvi. I, 7, 12).
He met Jehoshaphat with rebuke and counsel, on his
return from the Ramoth-gilead expedition, and his his-
tory of Jehoshaphat is said to have been "brought up
the book of the kings of
xx. 34). His career was largely contemporary with
that of Elijah the Tishbite. Elijah and Elisha are so
well known that they may here be passed by. The
picture of Micaiah the son of Imlah prophesying before
Ahab and Jehoshaphat (i Ki. xxii; 2 Chron. xviii) is a
familiar one. A little later, when Jehoshaphat was
preparing to meet the Moabite invasion, the Spirit of
Yahaweh came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, in
the midst of the congregation (2 Chron. xx. 14). Just
after the death of Ahab, when Jehoshaphat had joined
with Ahab's son Ahaziah to build Tarshish-going ships,
54 THE PROPHETS OF
Eliezer the son of Dodavah prophesied against the
alliance (2 Chron. xx. 37). The long life of the pro-
phetically gifted highpriest Jehoiada (2 Ki.;
2 Chron. xxiii–xxiv, especially xxiv. 15) was nearly con-
temporary with this whole period of prophetic history.
His death and that of his spirit-gifted son Zechariah
(2 Chron. xxiv. 19-22) occurred not very long before
that of Elisha.
In several instances prophets are individually men-
tioned, though their names are not given. Such, for
example, is the prophet who announced to Ahab his
chapter a prophet promises him another victory, and
yet later a prophet, also spoken of as " of the sons of
the prophets," rebukes Ahab for not securing the fruits
of his victory. We have also an account of a person
who is described as "a prophet," and as " one of the
sons of the prophets" (2 Ki. ix), who anointed Jehu as
In the northern kingdom the organizations described
as "the sons of the prophets " are, next to the person-
The sons of ality of Elijah and Elisha, the characteristic
the prophets feature of this period. Their character will
be considered later. For the present we only note that
they were under the supervision of Elijah and Elisha,
and that they probably account for the very large num-
ber of the prophets at that time.
That the number was large the record clearly affirms.
Of those in the northern kingdom, Elijah at Horeb says:
"They have slain thy prophets with the sword" (Ki.
xix. to, 14). "When Jezebel slew the prophets of Yaha-
weh," Obadiah the steward of Ahab hid a hundred of
them by fifties in a cave (I Ki. xviii. 4, 13), and the ac-
count seems to suggest that this was but a fraction of
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 55
the whole number. The prophets of Baal and of the
asherahs numbered eight hundred and fifty (i Ki. xviii.
19), and it is possible that Yahaweh's prophets were
as numerous. Perhaps, however, there were not many
prophets who were supernaturally gifted. Most of those
who are called prophets may have been "sons of the
prophets" (see i Ki. xx. 35, 38, and 2 Ki. ix. 1, 4), that
is, either pupils of some particular prophet, or members
of the organizations. Note that the community at Jeri-
cho was able to send out detachments of fifty (2 Ki. ii.
7, 16, 17). For the southern kingdom the accounts are
less explicit, but prophets were also numerous there.
Jehoshaphat gives the exhortation: "Believe his proph-
ets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chron. xx. 20). In the
account of the defection of Joash of Judah we read:
"He sent prophets to them to bring them again unto
Yahaweh, and they testified with them, but they did not
hear" (2 Chron. xxiv. 19).
A class of men make their appearance within this
period whom the biblical writers regard as false
prophets of Yahaweh, and from this time False
on they abound throughout the history. Of prophets
class is the old prophet of
Apparently he has had genuine prophetic gifts, and
has perverted them. There were four hundred proph-
ets, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah being one of
them who prophesied falsely in the name of Yahaweh
to persuade Ahab and Jehoshaphat to go up to Ramoth-
gilead (1 Ki. xxii. 6, 11; 2 Chron. xviii. 5). The proph-
ets had become so influential that there was a field of
operations for counterfeit prophets.
Words of the stems nabha, raah, hhazah, and also the
usual phrases descriptive of the prophet and of prophetic
function, are current in the accounts of all parts of this
56 THE PROPHETS OF
period. In the latter part of the period, Jehu the king
represented as using the word
technical sense in which, from this time on, it denotes a
prophecy of a certain type (2 Ki. ix. 25-26).
The third subperiod is that of Isaiah and his near
predecessors and successors. It extends from the death
Prophecy from of Elisha to the captivity of Manasseh, per-
the death haps about two hundred years, but fifty years
of Elisha to less by the usual interpretation of the A.ssyr-
Manasseh ian chronology. It covers the middle As-
syrian period, that in which Tiglath-pilezer is prominent,
and the later Assyrian period, that of Sargon and his
dynasty. To it belong the earlier group of the so-called
literary prophets. The distinguished names for the
period are Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, the Zechariah of Uz-
ziah's time, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, the author or authors
of Zech. ix-xiv, Micah, the Oded of the time of Ahaz.
This is the most conspicuous time in the history of the
prophets, and the fullest in the materials it offers, but
we must deal with it only in the barest outline.
We have no information concerning the prophet Joel,
save as the author of the book of that name. It is gen-
erally agreed that the book is either the earliest or the
latest of the fifteen known as the major and minor proph-
ets. I have no doubt that it is the earliest. It pre-
sents a very distinct historical situation, which seems to
me to be that of the invasion when Hazael swept the
2 Chron. xxiv. 23-25), the prophet being contemporary
with the event. Perhaps the death of Elisha occurred
after this event, in the same year, so that Joel was in
early life a contemporary of the illustrious northern
prophet. Joel teaches a doctrine of the Day of Yaha-
weh, on which the succeeding prophets build. He prom-
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 57
ises an outpouring of the Spirit, which may be plausibly
regarded as having its first fulfilment in the days of
Isaiah and his contemporaries.
Obadiah takes up the great theme, the Day of Ya-
haweh, illustrating it by a single instance, Yahaweh's
situations, — that of
to me, is the situation that had been outlined in Joel, the
punishment being that inflicted in Amaziah's expedition
(2 Ki. xiv. 7 and 2 Chron. xxv). There is an account
of a man of God who persuaded Amaziah not to take
Israelitish allies with him on this expedition, and an
account of a prophet who rebuked him after his return
for worshipping Edomite gods (2 Chron. xxv. 7-10, 15-
16). Supposably this prophet and this man of God may
be identical, and supposably one or both may be identi-
cal with Obadiah.
The prophet Jonah lived just before the conquests by
Jeroboam II.1 This historical prophet Jonah is the hero
of the story in the book of Jonah, whatever one may
think of the authorship or the character of the book.
The Chronicler tells us of one Zechariah, " who had
discernment in beholding of the Deity " during those
years of Uzziah in which that king was faithful and
prosperous (2 Chron. xxvi. 5).
Concerning Amos we have no information except in
the book of that name. He is represented as a Judean
prophet, not affiliated with the " sons of the prophets "
of the northern kingdom (i. 1, vii. 14, etc.), though his
1 "It was he who
restored the coast of
Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Yahaweh
of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher" (2 Ki. xiv. 25).
58 THE PROPHETS OF
extant prophecies concern mainly the northern kingdom.
The book has a title, dating it "two years before the
earthquake," at a point of time when Jeroboam was
Amos a boy when Joel was a man. The several proph-
ecies in the book seem to be of one date. The book
opens with a motto cited from Joel (Am. i. 2; Joel
16), and, apparently, it rebukes certain persons who are
taking unwarranted encouragement from what Joel has
prophesied concerning the Day of Yahaweh (v. 8 ff.).
What we know concerning Hosea comes from the
title and contents of his book. He began prophesying
almost contemporaneously with Amos, but his career
extended through the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, and
into that of Hezekiah, a period of several decades„ He
is a prophet of the northern kingdom, but his sympa-
thies are wholly with the house of David.
Isaiah is perhaps the greatest of all the prophets.
title to his book mentions the same kings of
with the title to Hosea. Isaiah's career began later in
the reign of Uzziah than those of Amos and Hosea, and
may have extended into the reign of Manasseh. In
more passages than one he perpetuates the preaching
of the Day of Yahaweh, which his predecessors had
inaugurated. We cannot here consider the questions
that have been raised concerning the relations of Isaiah
the son of Amoz to our existing book of Isaiah.
The second part of our book of Zechariah consists of
two "burdens " (ix–xi, xii–xiv). The first presents a
in which the separate kingdoms of
are in existence, and in which
great world-power (ix. 1o, 13, x. 6, 7, 10, 11). The
second is addressed to persons who can remember the
earthquake in the time of Uzziah (xiv. 5). Other marks
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 59
of like significance abound in both. These marks seem
to date these two Burdens during the time when Isaiah
was contemporary with Hosea.
Micah, according to the title of the book, was the
contemporary of Isaiah from some date in the reign of
Jotham. In later times Jeremiah's friends cite him as
a precedent in favor of prophetic freedom of speech
(Jer. xxvi. 17-19). So far as appears, he was exclusively
Early in the reign of Ahaz, in the midst of the careers
of Hosea and Isaiah and Micah, we have a brief note
concerning a prophet named Oded, a different man from
the Oded of the time of Asa. He secured the return
of two hundred thousand women and children whom
the Israelites under Pekah had carried captive from
Many allusions in the literature dealing with these
times indicate that the prophet was a familiar figure,1
and that prophets were numerous.2 This indication is
reenforced by the very frequent mention of false proph-
ets.3 The true prophets were numerous enough to have
numerous counterfeits. Perhaps the statement of Amos
that he is not a son of a prophet implies that the pro-
phetic organizations were still maintained in northern
1 "The mighty man and the man of war, the judge and the prophet"
(Isa. iii. 2). "I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young
men for Nazirites " (Am. ii. 11).
2 "Yahaweh testified
prophet, and of every seer." "As he spake by the hand of all his servants
the prophets" (2 Ki. xvii. 13, 23). "I have also spoken unto the prophets,
and I have multiplied visions, and by the hand of the prophets have I used
similitudes" (Hos. xii. 10 ). See also, among other instances, 2 Ki.
xxi. 10 and 2 Chron. xxxiii. 10; Isa. xxx. 10; Hos. vi. 5, iv. 5, ix. 7, 8;
Am. ii. 12, iii. 7, 8, vii. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Mic. iii. 6, 7.
3 Isaiah is emphatic concerning these. "The prophet that giveth lies
60 THE PROPHETS OF
Roeh, in the sense of seer, is employed for the last
time in the Old Testament in Isa. xxx. 10. The other
derivatives of raah, with those of nabha and hhazah,
continue to be used in this and the subsequent periods.
So do the phrases " man of God," " word of Yahaweh,"
"Spirit of Yahaweh." In Isa. xxx. to the English
versions render hhazah and its noun by " prophesy "
and " prophets," to distinguish them from raah and its
which they render "see" and "seer."
"burden," is much used in this period (e.g. Isa. xix. t„
xxi. t, xxii. I). Twice (Prov. xxx. t, xxxi. t) the old
version renders it " prophecy " and the revised versions
"oracle." Hittiph and its noun are used of prophesying
only in this period (Am. vii. 16; Mic. ii. 6, 11) and in
two places in Ezekiel.
The fourth subperiod is that of the Palestinian
prophets of the time of Jeremiah, he himself being the
Prophecy from central figure. Counted from the captivity of
Manasseh to Manasseh to the burning of the temple, the
the exile time is perhaps about sixty years; counted
to the death of Jeremiah it is longer, perhaps by some
decades. The distinguished names are Nahum, Habak-
kuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, with three others that are
incidentally mentioned in the records. In the great
crisis of the reformation under Josiah, the prophet con-
sulted was not Jeremiah or Zephaniah, but the prophet-
Huldah, then living in
2 Chron. xxxiv. 22). The narrative makes the impression
that she was a person of distinction and influence, and
highly gifted with prophetic power. In the book of
for torah, he is the tail" (ix. 15 ). "Priest and prophet have erred
through strong drink " (xxviii. 7). "Yahaweh . . . hath closed your eyes,
ye prophets, and hath covered your heads, ye seers; and to you vision
hath become wholly like the words of the book that is sealed" (xxix. 10).
And Isaiah is not alone in this (e.g. Mic. iii. 5, 11).
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 61
Jeremiah, Baruch the scribe appears with prominence
(xxxii. 12-16, xxxvi, xliii, xlv), though it is not expressly
said that he is a prophet. We have also an account of
one Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim, who
prophesied in the time of Jehoiakim, and who was
by some form of extradition from
put to death (Jer. xxvi. 20-23).
Other prophets were numerous. The biblical writings
concerning the time speak of them in more than thirty
places. They speak thus of true prophets (e.g. 2 Ki.
xxiii. 2 and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16 ; Lam. ii. 9 ; Jer. vii. 25,
xxvi. 5), and of false prophets as well (e.g. Zeph.
iii. 4 ; Lam. iv. 13; Jer. ii. 8, 26, xiv. 18, xxiii. 9, 11).
The false prophets are more to the front than the true.
Not less than four are mentioned by name. In the
fourth year of Zedekiah, the prophet Hananiah the son
of Azzur broke the yoke from off the neck of Jeremiah,
in token of the breaking of the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah predicted his death in punishment for thus
making the people trust in a lie ; and the prediction
was fulfilled (Jer. xxviii). Ahab the son of Kolaiah and
Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah prophesied a lie in the
name of Yahaweh, and were roasted in the fire by
Nehelamite prophesied, causing the people to trust in a
and sent letters to
madman, and was divinely punished ( Jer. xxix. 24, 28, 31,
32). The last named and possibly some of the others
The fifth subperiod is that of the
during the seventy years of the exile. It begins with
the earlier deportations by Nebuchadnezzar from Jeru-
temple, and thus overlaps the preceding subperiod, the
62 THE PROPHETS OF
distinction between the two being in part geographical.
The two great names are Daniel and Ezekiel. On the
Prophecy in basis of views concerning the book of Isaiah
among the exiles exiles would add a yet greater name, that of the sup-
posed second Isaiah. These prophets flourished in the
class from their contemporaries in
whom we have assigned to the preceding period.
In the earlier part of this period, at least, we find
mention of numerous false prophets, male and female,
prophesying in the name of Yahaweh ; men who daub
with untempered mortar, and women who sew pillows
upon all elbows (e.g. Ezek. xiii. 2, 3, 4, 9, 15–16, 17-18,
xiv. 4, 7, 9, 10). True prophets are not so much in
evidence, though there may have been numbers of them
also. Certain critical theories now current seem to
require the hypothesis that prophets now began to
multiply in the lands of the exile.
The last subperiod is that of the prophets after the
return from exile in the first year of Cyrus. The great
Prophecy in names are those of Haggai, the Zechariah of
the post- Zech. i–viii, Ezra, Nehemiah,- the author of
exilian times Malachi. Daniel was still alive at the open-
ing of the period. Haggai and Zechariah flourished
in the early years of it (Ezra v. 1, 2, vi. 14; Hag. i. 1;
Zech. i. 1, etc.). It is supposable that in early life they
may have known Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Ezra is chiefly
known as the scribe, and Nehemiah by his political
achievements ; but there is no room to doubt that the
biblical narrators regard them as exercising prophetic
gifts. No one is qualified to say whether the book of
Malachi was written by a prophet of that name, or by
Ezra, or by some one else.
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 63
The period was not without its other prophets, true
and false (Zech. vii. 3, viii. 9; Neh. vi. 7). Nehemiah
speaks of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, who had been
hired to pronounce a false prophecy, and of "the
prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets" who
sought to frighten him (vi. 10-14). These notices, with
the analogy of the preceding periods, confirm the tradi-
tions concerning the Great Synagogue, which affirm
that prophets were numerous at this time.
Nevertheless the time is priestly rather than prophetic.
So far as the record shows, the prophetic organizations
have vanished. In their stead we find the place Casiphia,
for training men for the various duties of the temple
service (Ezra viii. 17). A marked feature of the period
is the habit of appeal to the prophets of earlier times
(Zech. i. 4, 5, 6, vii. 7, 12; Mal. iv. 5; Ezra ix. 11;
Neh. ix. 26, 30, 32). Evidently these earlier prophets''
are regarded as authoritative scriptures.
The question of the cessation of prophecy we must
here dismiss with a few sentences. The period of the
so-called men of the Great Synagogue covers The cessa-
the last two prophetic periods and the time tion of
following. With the exception of Ezekiel, prophecy
who is probably included by implication, all the distin-
guished exilian and postexilian prophets are expressly
named in the lists of the men of the Great Synagogue.
Others besides prophets are also named, the number
being one hundred and twenty in all, and the latest
great name being that of the highpriest Simon the
Just. The Talmuds say that Simon was highpriest in
the time of Alexander the Great, and Josephus is clearly
mistaken in assigning him to a later time.
Most statements that are made concerning the men
of the Great Synagogue as an organization are insuffi-
64 THE PROPHETS OF
ciently based—alike those that affirm and those that
deny. But there is no room for doubt that this succes-
sion of men existed historically, or that the traditions
apply this name to them, or that they did many of the
things which the traditions attribute to them. Among
the acts attributed to them are the writing of the latest
Old Testament books and the completion of the Old
While the traditions say that many of the men of
the Great Synagogue were prophets up to the time of
Nehemiah and the writing of Malachi, they also say
that the men of the Great Synagogue as a whole are
later than the succession of the prophets taken as i'a
whole, that is, that the succession of prophets ceased at
some time before Simon the Just, and therefore before
the beginning of the Greek period. This finds confirma-
tion in the phenomena of the latest narrative books of
the Old Testament. The latest events mentioned in
these occurred (many assertions to the contrary notwith-
standing) some time before the death of Nehemiah.
Both in and out of the Old Testament, prophets are
abundantly mentioned as contemporaneous with Nehe-
miah, but none as living later. Josephus testifies (Cont.
Ap. I, 8) that the succession of the prophets ceased
with the reign of the Artaxerxes who reigned after
Xerxes. Of course he means that it ceased with the lives
of the prophets who were contemporary with Artaxer-
xes. Some of these, Nehemiah for example, may have
survived Artaxerxes by several decades.
There has been some dispute over the interpretation
of the Jewish traditions in this matter, and there is some
confusion in the traditions themselves, this last being in
part due to the inexplicable confusion of the rabbinical
chronology for the Persian period. But there are cer-
THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS 65
tain very solid facts which ought to interpret the facts
that are less evident. Judas Maccabus and his asso-
ciates regarded themselves as under the influence of the
divine Spirit, and claimed a certain power of making
predictions and working miracles. It has been inferred
that they counted themselves as prophets, but there is
clear proof to the contrary. We are told that they were
at a loss what to do with the altar of burnt offering
which the heathen had profaned. So they pulled it
down and laid away the stones "until there should
come a prophet to give answer concerning them"
(I Mac. iv. 46). A few years later they decided "that
Simon should be their prince and highpriest forever,
until there arise a faithful prophet" (xiv. 41). We are
told that under Bacchides "there arose a great affliction
a prophet appeared not amongst them " (ix. 27). Such
instances show that the Maccabees were consciously not
prophets, however conscious they may have been of the
possession of supernatural powers. In their time proph-
ets in the proper sense were thought of as belonging
to the past. Similar reasoning would apply to Simon
the Just, or to Jesus the son of Sirach, or to others.
In fine, the Jewish tradition holds that the succession
of the prophets ceased with the dying out of Nehemiah
and his associates, about 400 B.C. There was an expec-
tation that it would sometime be renewed, but it be-
came at that time non-existent. From the Christian
point of view it is plausible to affirm that the succession
reappeared in the person of John the Baptist, followed
by Jesus himself, and by the apostles and prophets of
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE
WHAT manner of man was the prophet outwardly?
What do we know concerning his personal appearance
and the external insignia of his office and the visible life
he lived among his fellow-citizens? In answer to these
questions we will discuss mainly three topics : first, the
outward presentment of the prophets; second, their
communal organizations; third, the so-called prophetic
There is no reason why one's conclusions on these
topics should be greatly affected by the critical position
One's view as he occupies. In regard to the external his-
affected by his tory of the prophets, as we ran it over in the
his critical position position last chapter, the men of the Modern View
differ widely with the older scholars ; though even here
the difference is less over the question what the scrip-
tures say than over the question how far what they say
is to be believed. But in the matter of the outward
phenomena presented by the prophets there is less
room for difference. The prominent characteristics are
the same at all dates in the history, however the proph-
ets of the different periods may differ in matters of
detail. This fact the scholars of the Modern View
might account for by regarding all the scriptural pic-
tures of the prophet as late ; but however one accounts
for it, it is a fact. Owing to it, our conclusions on these
points depend much less than in some other cases on
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 67
our opinions as to the dates of the writings. Some of
the views presented in this chapter are unlike those that
have been commonly held; but the differences are not
along the lines of the controversy between the Modern
View and the older views.
I. This preliminary being disposed of, we proceed to
inquire as to the external appearance of the prophet of
In centuries past Christian people have been accus-
tomed to think of him as though he were a Christian
priest or monk. Painters have painted his Baseless cur-
picture with this idea in mind. In Christian rent ideas
art a prophet is hardly more or less than an ecclesiastic,
barefoot, with a robe and a tonsure and a general air
of unearthliness. This is a miracle equal to that by
which art has transformed the angels of the bible, who
are always either young men or old men, into stocking-
less winged women. Far be it from me to make criti-
cism upon this as art; I only remark that art isn't
With this idea of an ecclesiastical personage has been
combined that of a revealer of hidden things. Certain
lines of the picture have been modelled upon the medi-
eval astrologer, or the priest of a Greek oracle, as if
the prophet were a weird, mysterious being who sits on
a tripod in a cave, and gives other-world advice to such
frightened souls as come to him.
Or one starts with the assumption that religion is
developing from lower forms to higher, and that the
earlier Hebrew prophets must have started at a pretty
low degree. So he comes to the study of them with a
mind preoccupied with African fetich-men, or voudou
practitioners, or American Indian medicine-men. Look-
ing through glasses of this color, he may see in Samuel's
68 THE PROPHETS OF
companies of prophets little else than medicine dances
and powwow circles.
Or, taking his cue from the notion that the Orient
never changes, that what now exists there is what always
existed there, one may imagine the prophetic companies
as bands of whirling dervishes.
Evidently we are in danger of being misled both by
our preconceived notions and by our love of the pictu-
resque, and we therefore especially need to be on our
guard, attending with care to the evidence in the case.
Let us do this. Let us examine what information we
have, and base our pictures of the prophets upon that,
instead of first forming our ideas concerning the proph-
ets, and then manipulating the information to make it
conform to the ideas.
A particularly significant thing in the biblical ac-
counts is the absence of phenomena of this unearthly
Significant sort among the prophets as a class. On cer-
absence of tain occasions particular prophets practised
unearthly austerities for purposes of symbolical teach-
phenomena ing. But ordinarily Moses or Samuel or Isaiah or
David or Nathan or Daniel appear as men arnong men,
citizens among citizens, and not at all like the frenzied
seers or oracle priests of the heathen religions. To
this even Ezekiel is not wholly an exception, though he
comes near enough to it to be quite in contrast with the
other prophets. An average Old Testament prophet is
not weird or mysterious. He is not a recluse, but an
active citizen. He is not picturesque through eccentric
personal appearance or habits. Elijah, indeed, was a
man of unusual personal appearance (2 Ki. i. 7-8), and
for a time led the life of a recluse, but he is presented
to us as being peculiar in these respects. He is as dif-
ferent from other prophets as he is from citizens of any
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 69
other class. We make a serious mistake if we count
him as typical, instead of counting him the exceptional
instance he purports to be.
The books of reference tell us that the prophets wore
a distinctive costume. In proof they cite what is said
in Zechariah (xiii. 2–6) concerning certain Was there a
prophets associated with idols, who "wear a prophetic
hairy mantle to deceive." It is inferred that costume?
Jehovah's prophets were accustomed to wear a hairy
mantle, and that these frauds adopted the usual pro-,
phetic garb, to give color to their pretences. It would
be exactly as logical to infer that they adopted an un-
usual garb in order to attract attention. Further, the
hairy mantle is here one of two devices by which these
idol prophets made themselves conspicuous. The other
was by cuts on their bodies.
"And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds between
thy hands? And he shall say, Those with which I was wounded
in the house of my friends " (Zech. xiii. 6).
The cuts on the body are here on the same footing with
the hairy mantle. Clearly, the writer had no intention
of saying that either was a part of the regulation uni-
form of the prophets of Yahaweh.
Further, they cite the hairy mantle worn by Elijah
and inherited by Elisha, and in connection with this
they mention the hairy garment worn by John the
Baptist. But you will remember that when King
Ahaziah's messengers reported to him that the man
who had met them wore a hairy garment, he at once
knew that the man was Elijah (2 Ki. i. 8). Elijah's
mantle distinguished him from all other prophets, as
well as from citizens who were not prophets. This
clearly shows that the prophets in general did not;
wear the hairy mantle as a uniform.
70 THE PROPHETS OF
They cite also the statement that Isaiah once upon a
time wore sackcloth, and put it off, going " naked and
barefoot" (xx. 2). But Isaiah's wearing sackcloth
exceptionally is no proof that all the prophets wore a
uniform regularly. No more can the same inference
be drawn from Samuel's being " covered with a robe"
when the witch of Endor called him up. The word
me'il is employed alike in describing the dress of kings
and priests and private citizens and boys and girls.
This is all the testimony that is cited for the exist-
ence of a distinctive prophetic costume. Evidently it
has very little weight. And there are strong considera-
tions on the other side. In the story that tells us how
Saul and his servant sought the asses and found a king-
dom (I Sam. ix), we are informed that they met Samuel
in the gate of the city, and asked him to tell them where
the seer's house was (ver. 18). It is evident that there
was nothing in his garb to indicate that he was himself
the seer. But he was at that moment on his way to a
public solemnity, and in those circumstances, if ever,
he would have been officially attired. We have an
account of a prophet who rebuked Ahab for suffering
Benhadad to escape (i Ki. xx. 38, 41). He disguised
himself by pulling his headband over his face. The
king knew him when he removed the headband. The
king knew him by his face, and not by his costume.
Similar statements would apply to the prophet who
anointed Jehu for king (2 Ki. ix. II). There is no
sacred uniform to tell Jehu and his friends who the
"mad fellow" is.
These are representative instances, and they seem to
be decisive. The cases cited to prove the existence of
a regulation prophetic costume are clearly exceptional,
and, therefore, prove the contrary, so far as they prove
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 71
anything. No article of prophetic apparel is ever spoken
of as distinctive of the class. There is no trace of a
special costume by which prophets were distinguished
from men who were not prophets. Religious art has
given to the prophet a monkish robe and tonsure; so
far as the Old Testament accounts go, sober truth
should give him the usual dress of a citizen of his time
and nation. If we should picture him as wearing a sack
in the evening, our picture would be no more anachro-
nistic than that of current art, and would be far truer
Some one may rejoin that the Old Testament evidence
in the case is negative rather than positive, and that we
must still infer, from the analogy of other The fact sig-
religions, that the Israelitish prophets had a nificant, even
peculiar dress of their own. Medicine-men if negative
and fetich-men, the prophets of savage religions, trick
themselves out in grotesque dress. In higher civiliza-
tions the prophet makes himself impressive by the garb
that indicates his profession. Is it possible that the
In reply to this, I should deny that the Old Testament
evidence is a mere argument from silence. It seems to
me positive and distinct. But if any one thinks other-
wise, I should not take the trouble to argue the case
with him. At all events, the biblical writers leave the
question of a prophetic dress in the background. They
describe in detail the costume of their priests, but not
that of their prophets. The writers of other peoples
make much of the garb of the men through whom they
the unseen world; not so the writers of
With them the man is everything, and his dress nothing.
The record is, therefore, unique at this point, whether
72 THE PROPHETS OF
the fact recorded be unique or not. Why should we
hold that both are unique?
unique. Jesus Christ, of the stock of
These are unique, whether we look at them from the
evangelical point of view or from the agnostic point of
view. Unique results probably had unique antecedents.
We should not be surprised if we find the uniqueness
extending to many matters of detail. The fact that
the biblical account of the prophets makes them in any
particular different from the prophets of other religions
is no argument against the truth of the account; for
we ought to expect to find that they were different.
Some of the books of reference affirm that the
prophets were addicted to habits of religious frenzy. Ian
Did the proof is given an alleged derivation of the
prophets word nabha, from nabha’, "to boil up." But
rave? the derivation is at the strongest merely a
conjecture; and it would not prove the point even if it
were known to be correct.
Worldly men are twice spoken of as calling the
prophets mad—that is, crazy. Shemaiah the Nehela-
wrote to the officials at
why they had not rebuked Jeremiah, under the provision
for putting "in the stocks and in shackles " "any man
that is crazed, and maketh himself a prophet" (Jer.
xxix. 26-27). This epithet, we learn from the context,
was not called forth by crazy conduct on the part of
Jeremiah, but by his writing a particularly sane letter to
anoint Jehu, a quiet, secret errand, is called by Jehu"s
brother officers a "crazed fellow" (2 Ki. ix. 11). There
is no trace of raving in either case. Worldly men called
the prophets crazy, just as worldly men to-day call ear-
nest preachers crazy.
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 73
In one place a prophet speaks of the prophets as
crazy. Hosea says: —
"The prophet is a fool, the man that hath the spirit is crazed, for
the multitude of thine iniquity, and because the enmity is great "
Here, clearly, he represents himself and other prophets
as distracted under the strain of current evil; but he
does not attribute frenzied utterance to himself or to
In one instance it is said that the evil spirit came upon
King Saul, "and he prophesied" (I Sam. xviii. 10).
David played before him as usual, and he attempted to
kill David. Doubtless this was an attack of mania, but
it does not follow that Saul's raving is called prophesy-
ing. It is quite as easy to think that Saul talked on
religious subjects, and that this was a characteristic
symptom of his fits of insanity ; in other words, that
Saul's utterances are here called prophesying not
because they were crazy, but because they were re-
In the account of Saul's pursuing David to Naioth in
Ramah (I Sam. xix. 18-24) we have a similar connec-
tion between religious utterance on the part of Saul and
the insane attacks to which he was subject. Excited
by his rage against David and the disobedience of his
messengers, and afterward by the prophesying as he
heard it, he himself prophesied, —
"And he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in
Ramah. And he also stripped off his clothes, and he also prophe-
sied before Samuel, and fell down naked all that day and all that
Apparently Saul, in his prophesying, conducted himself
in an insane and indecorous manner. But it does not
appear that any one else did so; nor that Saul's conduct
is called prophesying because of the craziness of it.
We have an account (i Sam. x..5–13) of the company of
prophets that Saul met when he was first anointed king.
"A band of prophets coming down from the highplace, with
psaltery and timbrel and pipe and harp before them; and they shall
be prophesying ; and the spirit of Yahaweh will come mightily upon
thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into
We need not necessarily figure this as a company of
dancing dervishes. It may equally well be a band of
serious men, holding an outdoor religious meeting, with
a procession and music and public speeches.
In all the instances of this kind the alleged prophetic
frenzy is a matter of interpretation, and not of direct
statement. If one comes to the passages with the idea
that frenzied utterance lies at the root of the original
notion of prophesying, he may find in the passages the
outcropping of this underlying notion in the word; but
he will hardly find it without such assistance. This
being the case, the passages should certainly be inter-
preted in the light of the habitual sanity that marks the
conduct and the utterances of the prophets. The idea
that Saul's attacks of mania made him very religious in
his utterances is in accord with facts with which we are
familiar. The idea that the prophets preached in the open
air, attracting attention by means of a procession and a
band, has in it no element of absurdity. If one starts
by assuming that the prophet developed from a medi-
cine-man or a voudou-man or a fetich-man, or that the
prophet is of a piece with a Greek oracle priest, drunk
with vapor, one may be able to stretch these texts so
as to make them fit his assumption; but that is not
their natural meaning.
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 75
In short, the inference that the prophets were character-
ized by frenzy is baseless. The statement that Jeremiah
was crazy is recorded as a slander, and not as a fact.
Religious talking was a symptom in Saul's periods of
insanity. The prophets held religious meetings under
the excitement of which Saul conducted himself strangely.
But there is no proof that the prophets acted like crazy
In one personal peculiarity the prophets are repre-
sented to have been remarkable, — their longevity. As
a class, judging from the biographical notices The prophets
we have, they were unusually long-lived men. long-lived
To say nothing of the patriarchs, Moses died at the age
of one hundred and twenty years, being till then vigor-
ous (Deut. xxxi. 2, xxxiv. 7). This is not to be explained
by saying that the term of human life has diminished
since then. According to the priestly laws in Leviticus
(xxvii. 3, 7, etc.) the age of manly vigor was then from
twenty to sixty years. Caleb regarded it as exceptional
that he was still a warrior at eighty-five (Josh. xiv. Io–I 1 ;
cf. Ps. xc. 1o). Moses had his successors in longevity.
Joshua reached the age of one hundred and ten years.
(Josh. xxiv. 29 ; Jud. ii. 8). Jehoiada, the prophetically
gifted highpriest, lived to be one hundred and thirty
years old (2 Chron. xxiv. 15). The public career of Elisha
extended through not less than' sixty years, and that of
Isaiah was yet longer, and that of Daniel about seventy
years. The list might be extended. In a general way
art has good ground for its habit of picturing a prophet
as old and venerable ; though it happens that in many
particular instances art has given gray hairs to a
prophet who should have been pictured as a young
So much for the prophets as they presented themselves
76 THE PROPHETS OF
to the eyes of their contemporaries. Save in special
instances we are to think of their personal appearance
as simply that of respectable citizens.
II. Similar results await us as we turn to a second
topic, the arrangements for the communal organizations
of the prophets.
Of these we know but little, save what lies on the
surface of the biblical texts. It will help to a clear
understanding of what is said concerning these organi-
zations if we begin by fixing firmly in our minds the
fact that they are mentioned in connection with two
periods, — the time of Samuel and the time of Elijah
and Elisha. Nothing is said concerning them in the
history of the other periods, the mention of "a son of a
prophet" in Amos (vii. I4) being properly no exception
to this statement.
In the King James version the phrase "company of
prophets" occurs in two connections, suggesting that
Prophetic the prophets were organized and operated
organizations in companies. The verbal statement of this
under fact vanishes when we examine the Hebrew;
Samuel but the fact itself remains, based on inference. The
account of it is given mainly in two passages.
The first of the two passages is the one cited above,
in which we are told of Saul's meeting the prophets
after Samuel had anointed him (z Sam. x. 5-13). Saul
met what the old version calls a " company," and the
new version a "band" of prophets. "A string of
prophets " would be an exact rendering in vernacular
English, that is, a procession. They had a band of
music "before them," stringed instruments and drum
and fife. They were prophesying. After meeting them
Saul joined them in prophesying, the spirit of God com-
ing "mightily" upon him. The change in him was so
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 77
remarkable that people noticed it, and asked: " Is Saul
also among the prophets?"
I have already indicated the opinion that we have
here an account of outdoor religious services, differing,
of course, from anything that could occur in our time,
as that time differed from ours in everything, and yet
properly analogous to such services as might now be
held by a corps of the Salvation Army, or by the Young
Men's Christian Association. The remarks that are
represented to have been made by the people imply
that they were familiar with such services by the
prophets. They recognized the fact that Saul belonged
to a worldly-minded family, not given to participating
in evangelistic meetings. And whether you admit the
correctness of these analogies or not, at least such
movements as are here described must have had behind
them some form of organization, looser or more com-
The other passage in question has also been cited
above, the one that describes Saul's pursuit of David
to Naioth in Ramah (t Sam. xix. 18-24). It is said of
Saul's messengers that
"They saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and
Samuel standing as head over them."
The word here translated "company " occurs nowhere
else. Evidently, however, the prophets were together
in some sort of assembly, engaged in con- The Naioth
certed action of some sort, Samuel being gathering of
either the president or the conductor. The prophets
atmosphere was charged with religious excitement.
Saul's successive relays of messengers, as they came
under the influence of the scene, joined in the prophe-
sying, and so did even the king himself when he
78 THE PROPHETS OF
at last followed his messengers. Saul and possibly
others divested themselves of part of their clothing.
Saul seems to have had a fit that lasted several
This incident, as well as the previous one, presupposes
organization of some sort. Concerning the forms and
the purposes of the organizing, we have little inEorma-
tion. We cannot escape the conclusion, however, that
an educational element was included. The instruments
of music in the one incident, and the concerted proph-
esying under the conduct of Samuel in the other,
suggest that training in orchestral and choral music
was made prominent. We shall not be far out if we
suppose that instruction was given in patriotic history,
in theology, in literary practice, in whatever would fit
the disciples of Samuel to be preachers of the religion
of Yahaweh to their contemporaries. The remarkable
Solomon, in matters of literature and culture, was
doubtless largely due to these prophetic organizations
introduced by Samuel. It is probable, however, that
these organizations were not merely schools, but were,
like those of a later time, also centres of political and
The mention of music as a part of the 'prophetic
training under Samuel is in accord with those passages
in the books of Chronicles which speak of Asaph,
Heman and Jeduthun and their associates as prophesy-
ing in song or with instruments of music (e.g. I Chron.
xxv), and with all the statements in the Old and New
Testaments which represent the second half of the
reign of David as resplendent with culture and music
and psalmody. Before one rejects these traditions as
unhistorical he should take into account, among other
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 79
things, their marked continuity with the recorded events
of the time of Samuel. Supposing them to be histori-
cal, it was not by mere accident that the temple choirs
appeared in the generation following the death of
Samuel, or that Heman the grandson of Samuel was
one of their leaders.
So much for the organizations of Samuel's time.
The other type of prophetic organization is that de-
scribed in the term "sons of the prophets." “The sons of
So far as the records show, it belongs exclu- the prophets”
sively to the northern kingdom, and, save for general
mention in Amos (vii. 14), exclusively to the times of
Elijah and Elisha. Groups of the sons of the prophets
and presumably at other places. We are accustomed
to call them the "schools of the prophets," but this
term is not biblical. A good many details are given
concerning them. In his lifetime Elijah was at the
head of them, and he left this office to Elisha (2 Ki. ii.
3, 15, etc.). In studying them one should study the
entire biography of these two prophets. We have a
story that one group of them found their home too nar-
row and went to cut timber for enlarging it, on which`
occasion Elisha performed the miracle' of causing an
iron axe to swim (2 Ki. vi. 1-7). From this we learn that'
in some cases the sons of the prophets were a commu-
nity, living in a common house. We also learn that they
were not afraid of manual labor. They were numerous,
the community at
search for Elijah (2 Ki. ii. 16, 17), and Obadiah hid a
hundred of Jehovah's prophets "by fifty in a cave "
(1 Ki. xviii. 4). They were not mere lads, some of
them being married men, as we learn from Elisha's
miracle of the oil, wrought in behalf of the widow of
80 THE PROPHETS OF
one of them. Kindly disposed people sometimes con-
tributed to their support. Witness Elish's feeding a
hundred men with the twenty loaves of the man from
Baal-shalishah (iv. 42-44). Sometimes they eked out
their subsistence by gathering wild vegetation, as we
see in the incident when there was "death in the pot"
This system of communities was evidently widespread
anti influential. Doubtless they had somewhat of the
character of schools for personal education; but they
were rather houses of reform, centres of religious and
patriotic movement. Their members were especially
obnoxious to the Baalite party in Israelitish politics.
They promoted the overthrow of Joram and the acces-
sion of Jehu (2 Ki. ix. 1-12). Their political attitude is
one of the most significant things about them. We
shall return to this in another chapter. Meanwhile we
may fix in mind the fact that the work of the sons of the
prophets is represented to have been analogous to that
of our Young Men's Christian Associations, or of some
of our organizations for reform or for good citizenship,
rather than to that of our schools or colleges or semi-
The "college" in
King James translation, the prophetess Huldah dwelt
(2 Ki. xxii. 14; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 22), is simply an instance
of the uncertain meaning of a word.
III. We turn to a third topic, the so-called prophetic
Much stress is laid on this by some writers. Most
denominations of Christians hold that the Christian
“Holy ministry is an order of men who have "taken
orders” orders " in the sense of being set apart by
ordination. The Anglican and Roman churches hold
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 81
that the ministry exists in three different orders ; namely,
bishops and priests and deacons. In a sense something
like this many speak of the two orders of the ministry
under the Old Covenant ; namely, the priestly order and
the prophetic order.
Is this a proper use of language? Are we to think
of the prophet as belonging to an order? Was he an
ordained man, like a Jewish priest or a Christian min-
ister? In other words, are we to think of the priests
and the prophets as two orders of Israelitish clergymen?
These questions must be answered by examining the
I. First, it is probably true that there was an un-
broken succession of prophets from Samuel to Malachi
— perhaps from Abraham to Malachi—in The prophets
time wholly without true living prophets or prophetic
men. This is probable, though it cannot at every point
2. But, secondly, the prophets were not a sacerdotal
order, holding definite relations to the priestly order.
They were not a priesthood, or a section of The prophets
the priesthood, or a body analogous to the not a sacer-
In this the usage of
from that of other peoples. In
ample, the prophets were a class in the priesthood. Mr.
George Rawlinson tells us that they ranked next to the
highpriests, and that they —
“were generally presidents of the temples, had the management of
the sacred revenues, were bound to commit to memory the contents
the ten sacerdotal books " (History
Similar representations are made in such a novel as
the Uarda of Ebers; and more minute and accurate
statements may be found in later Egyptological works.
82 THE PROPHETS OF
what was true of the prophets of
of those of other countries. In
case was different. We have no account of any priestly
functions regularly exercised by the prophets as proph-
ets ; and none of any official relations between the
priestly body and the prophetic body.
It is true that some prophets were also priests, Zadok
and Jeremiah and Ezra, for example. That is to say,
a priest might become a prophet, as might any one
else. Further, in certain instances, a prophet, without
being a priest, may have been commissioned to perform
priestly acts. We are told that Moses was so commis-
sioned, officiating as priest in the original setting apart
of Aaron to the priesthood (Lev. viii. 15-30). It is
commonly alleged that Samuel performed priestly acts,
but the records do not sustain the allegation.1 There is
no trace of any defined sacerdotal rights or duties regu-
larly devolving upon the prophets. The prophet, as such,
was not a priest. The two offices were entirely different.2
3. It is probable, thirdly, that the prophetic ranks
1 Certainly, it is said that Samuel offered sacrifices (I Sam. vii. 9, xvi.
2, and other places). But this would be said of any person who brought
a sacrifice for offering, even if he employed a priest to-sprinkle the blood
and to perform all the other priestly functions in the case. In particular,
a public man is said to offer sacrifices when he causes them to be offered
by the proper officiating priests. The record is capable of this interpreta-
tion in every case where it speaks of an offering by Samuel. In one in-
stance only we have a specific statement of the part personally taken by
Samuel in a sacrifice (I Sam. ix. 13); and in this instance he was to pro-
nounce a blessing at the sacrificial meal, long after all the priestly rites had
2 The priest must be from the tribe of Levi; the prophet might be from
any tribe. The priest was selected according to descent and ceremonial
condition; the prophet was directly and individually commissioned by
Deity. The priest was accredited by solemn religious services and care-
fully kept genealogical registers, the prophet by the possession of the
extraordinary powers that God gave him. The priests served in a yearly
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 83
were somewhat generally recruited from among men
who were disciples of the acknowledged Was the
prophets, and had thus received special tui- prophet a
tion for the service. In the times of the graduate?
" sons of the prophets," for example, it is likely that
most men who became prophets were those who had
previously been connected with these so-called prophetic
schools (2 Ki. ix. I, 4; Am. vii. 14-15). But there is
no trace of this having been done as a matter of regular
course. There is no evidence that most of these pupils
ever became prophets in the strict sense, much less that
they became so in a routine way, by graduating. Ap-
parently, however, they were regarded as prophets in a
secondary sense, and were called by the name. In the
periods when prophets were very numerous, it is likely
that most of them were prophets only in this secondary
sense—sons of the prophets, followers of the great
prophets, rather than men who were believed to be
themselves highly endowed with prophetic gifts.
4. There is no indication, fourthly, that the prophets
were ordinarily set apart to their office by any ordaining
act. They were sometimes set apart to some Ordination
special work, but there is no instance in which
any one is admitted to be a prophet by any such act.
The anointing of Elisha is the principal case in point
(1 Ki. xix. 16, 19). But the facts of Elisha's life show
that he was a distinguished prophet long before this
anointing. He, was to be anointed, not to the prophetic
round, according to a minutely prescribed ritual; the prophets came and
went as God sent them. The priests administered and taught the divine
laws which the prophets brought and proclaimed. The priests ministered
at the altar; the prophets preached the word. The priests were the offi-
cial clergy of the Israelitish church; the prophets, especially in the matter
of scripture-writing, "spice from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost,"
84 THE PROPHETS OF
office, but to be the successor of Elijah, in Elijah's
special work. It is a question whether there was any
ceremony of anointing save Elijah's casting his cloak
upon him. And in any case the transaction is set forth
as exceptional and peculiar. In the same breath in
which Elijah is directed to anoint Elisha he is also
directed to anoint Hazael and Jehu. But the anointing
Hazael king over
(1 Ki. xix. 15), is evidently something exceptional.
so is the anointing of Jehu over
private room at Ramoth-gilead (1 Ki. xix. 16; 2 Ki. ix.
1-13). And not less exceptional is the setting apart of
Elisha that is mentioned along with these. And with
this vanishes the last sign that any one ever entered
upon the prophetic office by taking orders.
5. In fine, every man or woman whom God endowed
with prophetic gifts thereby became a prophet. No
How one other door to the office is mentioned in the
became a scriptures. The law in Deut. xviii says : " A
prophet prophet . . . will Yahaweh thy God raise
up to thee." The prophet becomes a prophet simply
j by being raised up for that purpose. He becomes a
prophet, so far as the records show, solely by becoming
endowed with prophetic gifts. He becomes recognized
as a prophet through the exercise of his gifts among his
fellow-citizens. As people discovered that a person had
the gifts, they accepted him as a prophet, and that
irrespective of outward insignia or previous training
or ceremonies of ordination. If one claimed to be a
prophet of Yahaweh, his claims were to be tested not by
the clothes he wore, or by his ascetic mode of life, or
by appealing to a register of genealogy or of ordinations,
but by ascertaining whether he had the gifts of a prophet
—by observing, first, whether he spoke in Yahaweh's
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 85
name only, and, secondly, whether the signs which he
gave in Yahaweh's name came to pass.
This applies, of course, only to prophets who were
properly such. In the secondary sense of being a dis-
ciple, one of the sons of the prophets, one might become
a prophet merely by becoming connected with prophets
whose gifts were recognized.1
I have not the hardihood to expect that every one will
accept the opinion I am advocating as to the costume,
the freedom from excited conduct, the ordina- The prophet
tion, of the prophets; but every one will cer- especially a
tainly recognize the significant fact that these manly man
things are only slightly touched in the records; and this
fact constitutes nine-tenths of the value of the view I
offer. At least no stress is laid on matters of regulation
costume or of marvellous personal bearing or of ordina-
tion. In Deuteronomy the phrase, "of your brethren,
like unto me," stands in contrast to the characteristics
alike of the priests and of the heathen practitioners of
magic arts. Unlike these, the prophet is a man of the
same sort with other men. A distinguishing thing in
man is the truest channel of communication between man
and God. We cannot too strongly recognize the manli-
ness and the manfulness of the prophets, as set forth in
the Old Testament, or of Jesus and the apostles as set
forth in the New.2
l Either in these organizations or in other forms and at other dates,
there is reason to hold that the prominent prophets had their disciples,
some of whom were permanently attached to them, looking to them for
instruction, and assisting them in their work. See such passages as Isa.
viii. 16, 1. 4; Jer. li. 59-63. It may be assumed that literary and theologi-
cal studies generally formed a part of the training of the disciples of the
2 I suppose that no careful student will hold that the positions which I
86 THE PROPHETS OF
To repeat this once more. According to the records
a prophet might be judge or king or priest or general or
The absence statesman or private person, in fine, might
of insignia occupy any position in the commonwealth;
noteworthy as a prophet, he was simply a citizen with a
special work to do. The prophets as such had no settled
position in church or state. They were sent by God on
individual missions, natural or supernatural, to supple-
ment the routine administration of secular and religious
affairs. The bible refuses to present any other picture
of a prophet than that of a citizen, like other citizens,
holding a commission from God, and endowed with the
gifts requisite for accrediting his commission. This
agrees with everything that we shall hereafter learn
concerning the prophets. The human individuality of
the prophet is emphasized, to the neglect of outward
appearance, or official character, or other like things.
In the scriptures as they stand, leaving out the excep-
tional instances that serve to emphasize the rule, our
attention is withdrawn from external marks, and fixed
upon the personal man or woman whom God has ap-
pointed to be prophet.
In this there is a significant contrast .between the re-
religion which thus exalts manhood, when considering
our relations to Deity, is a fine conception. Men some-
times speak of this conception as if it were the new prod-
uct of the thinking of the last decades of the nineteenth
century. When men exploit twentieth-century religious
ideas, they give prominence to this: the recognition of
maintain as to the absence of outward insignia can be positively disproved;
and that no one will dispute that it is better to form our conceptions of the
prophets more by the facts that are positively stated, and less by accessories
that some suppose are alluded to, than many are in the habit of doing.
THE PROPHET. A CITIZEN WITH A MESSAGE 87
the truth that the most human man or woman is the per-
son most suitable to be the prophet of the Lord. It is
not a small thing among the glories of the religion of
Yahaweh that it has recognized this truth from the be-
ginning. This conception characterizes the monotheism
of the worshippers of Yahaweh, as differing from all other
religions. It characterizes this monotheism as expressed
in the earliest records we have concerning the prophets,
as well as in the latest. It is one of the phenomena
which mark that religion as, among the religions, the
one fittest to survive.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET—NATURALISTIC AND
IN the preceding chapter we have tried to answer the
question: How did the prophet look when you met him?
and other affiliated questions. In the present chapter
the question becomes : How, in his character as prophet,
did the prophet occupy himself? What did he do?
We need from the outset to guard against two mis-
taken assumptions, — the assumption that the prophets
were merely or mainly predicters of events, and the re-
actionary assumption that they exercised no supernatu-
No scholars hold that the prophets were mere givers
of oracles or predicters of the future; and yet this phase
The assump- of their work has been so emphasized that
tion that wrong impressions are common. One needs
prophecy is to reiterate the statement that a prophet is
prediction not characteristically a person who foretells, but
one who speaks forth a message from Deity. To regard
him as mainly a foreteller involves a narrowing of the
idea of his mission that is all the more mischievous
because of its being popularly very common. The
argument from fulfilled prediction has been made so
prominent among the proofs of the divine origin of the
scriptures, and again in advocating the claim of Jesus
to be the Christ, that many have come to think of pre-
diction as being substantially the whole of prophecy, and
even to interpret the prophetic writings as if they must
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 89
needs be regarded as predictive throughout.) This state
of things renders it necessary to repeat the statement
that prophecy and prediction are different terms. It
greatly obscures the prophecies to count them as pre-
dictive only. In bulk, predictions constitute but a small
part of them, and what predictions there are consist
almost entirely of promises and threats.
This is one bad assumption. But we should not for-
get that the opposite assumption is as bad or worse.
Prophecy is not prediction, but it does not The worse
follow that prophecy does not include predic- contrary
tion. The absence of supernatural endow- assumption
ment for the prophets is a thing to be proved, not a thing
to be assumed. Prediction should neither be interpreted
into the prophetic utterances, nor interpreted out of
them. The predictive element in prophecy may be gen-
uine and important, even if it is only a part and not the
Taking the matter up positively, let us repeat once
more that the functions of the prophet are correctly
indicated by the etymology of the English The name
word. A prophet is a person who speaks out indicates the
the special message that God has given him. function
The priesthood, and, in a modified sense, the judge or
king or other secular authorities, were, in their routine
the exponents of the will of Yahaweh in
The prophets were his spokesmen for the purposes not
covered by the routine administration of affairs.
1 This is not confined to advocates of old-fashioned opinions. Several
scholars have published, for example, arguments for the Maccabaean date
of the book of Daniel, based on the assumption that prophecy and predic-
tion are equivalent. They say that inasmuch as the book of Daniel is
peculiarly predictive, the editors of the Hebrew bible would certainly have
placed it among the prophets if it had been in existence when the writings
of the prophets were collected.
90 THE PROPHETS OF
In a general study of this topic very little depends
on dates. In matters of detail, indeed, there is much
Principal difference between the earlier and the later
prophets. The civilization of
same at all stationary, and the training and the tasks of
dates the prophets changed with their environment. But
in its principal outlines their work was essentially the same
at all periods?
We will begin with passages which describe a prophet's
duties in outline, and will afterward consider particulars.
In the narrative concerning Moses a prophet is thus
"And Yahaweh said unto Moses, See, I have given thee as a
Deity to Pharaoh, Aaron thy brother being thy prophet " (Ex.
Aaron was to utter before Pharaoh the messages which
A prophets Moses should commit to him for the purpose.
functions In doing this, he sustained to Moses the re-
outlined lation which a prophet sustains to his God.
Nothing could be more explicit. A prophet is a person
who speaks forth the message that God has committed
Altogether the same is the definition of the func-
tion of a prophet as given in the twelfth chapter of
Numbers : — iv t
"If there be a prophet of you, I Yahaweh make myself known
unto him in the vision, in a dream I speak with him. Not so is my
servant Moses. In all my house he is faithful. Mouth unto mouth
I speak with him" (vv. 6-8).
Here the prophet is described as one who receives mes-
1 That the Old Testament writings declare this to have been the case is
beyond dispute, though some critics may account for it by saying that the
earlier writings have been reworked.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 91
sages from God. That he utters the messages he receives
is not affirmed, that being left to implication.
This idea that the prophets were revealing spokesmen
for Deity is more fully defined in the eighteenth and the
thirteenth chapters of Deuteronomy. First, the prophet
is differentiated from the Levitical priest (Deut. xviii.
1-8), the ordinary spokesman of Yahaweh. The differ-
entiation is none the less real for its being indirect and
by suggestion only. The prophet's functions are unlike
those of the priesthood in that they are special, rather
than matters of routine. He is next distinguished from
all practisers of occult arts (9-14). He is unlike these
men to whom people are apt to go when they fancy
themselves in need of supernatural information. The
distinction in this case is made directly, and consists in
the fact that the prophet has genuine revelations from
Deity. Then (15-19) the prophet is positively described.
He is a man, like other men, "of thy brethren, like unto
me," raised up by Yahaweh for purposes of especial
communication from him, so that men may not need to
seek intercourse with the supernatural world through the
magic arts just forbidden, or through any other channel.
In the rest of the chapter and in the first verses of xiii,
the test of a true prophet is declared.
The messianic bearings of this passage are reserved
for future notice. It is enough for the present that they
do not conflict with the interpretation just given. The
word "prophet" in the passage, though not a collective
noun, is distributively used. Yahaweh would raise up
own pleasure, whenever he had a special revelation to
make by one; and that would be as often as they really
needed communication with the unseen world. He
promised that a prophet should appear on the arising
92 THE PROPHETS OF
of any such need. The New Testament writers cor-
rectly apply this to Jesus Christ, both because they
regard him as for his own time a prophet in this succes-
sion, and because they regard him as the great antitypal
prophet in whom the succession culminated.1
In our English version the last clause of the four-
teenth verse reads: —
"The Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do."
This translation is so inadequate as to be misleading.
Literally the clause is: —
"nd as for thee, not Thus bath Yahaweh thy God given to thee."
That is, he has not given to thee the spurious and fool-
ish modes of consulting with the unseen which are prac-
1 "For these nations which thou art dispossessing hearken unto sorcer-
ers and unto diviners; while as for thee, not thus hath Yahaweh thy Deity
given to thee. A prophet, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like
me, will Yahaweh thy Deity raise up to thee; unto him shall ye hearken.
According to all which thou didst ask from with Yahaweh thy Deity in
Horeb, in the day of the Assembly, saying, Let me not again hear the
voice of Yahaweh my Deity, and this great fire I shall no longer see, lest I
die. And Yahaweh said unto me, They have spoken well that which they
have spoken. A prophet I will raise up for them from the midst of their
brethren, like thee, and will give my words in his mouth, and he shall
speak unto them all which I shall command him; and it shall be that the
man who will not hearken to my words which he shall speak in my name,
I myself will make inquiry from with him.
"Only, the prophet who shall presume to speak a word in my name
which I have not commanded him to speak, or who shall speak in the
name of other Deities, that prophet shall die. And inasmuch as thou wilt
say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which Yahaweh bath not
spoken? The prophet who shall speak in the name of Yahaweh, and the
word shall not be, and shall not come to pass, that is the word which
Yahaweh bath not spoken" (Deut. xviii. 14-22).
"When there shall arise in the midst of thee a prophet or a dreamer
of dreams, and shall give unto thee a sign or a miracle; and the sign or
the miracle come to pass, which he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go
after other Deities, . . . thou shalt not hearken to the words of that prophet
. . ." (Deut. xiii. i-6).
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 93
tised by the augurs and diviners and sorcerers of other
nations, but has given thee something immeasurably
better, namely, his prophets; and he therefore forbids
thy resorting to these other methods. The words "not
thus hath Yahaweh thy God given to thee," in mention-
ing what God has not given, call attention to the dif-
ferent thing which he has given. He disallows the
consulting of the invisible world through necromancers,
because he has provided a glorious opening of com-
munication with himself through the prophets. The
words of the verse distinctly contrast the forbidden
looking into the unknown world, that by the practice of
occult arts, with the revealing of the unknown which is
promised in the following verse, in the office work of
Yahaweh's prophet. In fine, according to this chapter,
the prophet is like the priest in that he is the authorized
representative of Yahaweh, and unlike him in that his
work is special. He is like and unlike the magicians,
in that he is genuinely the channel of especial communi-
cation with Deity, which they falsely pretend to be.
To repeat this in other words, he is differentiated from
the priest by the fact that his message is direct and
special and from those who practise magic arts by the
fact that his communication with Deity is real.
Having taken this general view, we are prepared to
descend to particulars. The functions which the records
ascribe to the prophets may be arranged in two classes,
—those which do not require the exercise of distinctly
supernatural gifts, and those which require such gifts.
For convenience let us designate these as their natural-
istic and their supernaturalistic functions.
I. We begin with certain classes of their activities
which presuppose no powers on their part but such as
may be common to all gifted men.
94 THE PROPHETS OF
I. They were prominent as the public men of their
times; they were statesmen, often political leaders.
When we find such men as Moses or Samuel or David
or Daniel engaged in public affairs, we might perhaps
explain it by saying that they occupy themselves thus,
not in the character of prophet, but rather in that of law-
giver or judge or king or prime minister. But even so,
it seems to have been true that in times of crisis, when
there were great deeds to do, the office of lawgiver or
judge or prime minister was peculiarly apt to fall into
the hands of a prophet.
But this way of accounting for the matter will not
apply in all the instances in which we find the prophets
taking part in public affairs. So far as we are informed,
Elijah or Elisha or Amos or Hosea or Isaiah or Jere-
miah or Ezekiel were never officeholders, but they habit-
ually deal with questions of state. Reflect on what you
know concerning them, and you will see that a book
which should contain their biographies in detail would
also be a detailed history of national affairs. In the
questions were so closely identified that the prophet
could hardly be a religious teacher without being also a
Take Jeremiah as an illustration of this. In his time
a statesman yoke. They are constantly plotting to throw
it off, are seeking to influence the king and the nation
that direction, are advocating alliances with
Jeremiah steadfastly opposes their policy. He con-
trives to exert an influence over both Jehoiakim and
Zedekiah, holding them back from revolt. He writes
to the exiles in
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 95
docile and. make the best of their situation. Half of
his prophecies, as we have them, are attempts to con-
vince the Jews that successful revolt is impossible, and
that attempted revolt can only bring additional miseries
upon them. He preaches a doctrine of restoration
after seventy years as a reason why they should cease
from their hopeless efforts for present independence.
Nebuchadnezzar recognizes the services of Jeremiah,
shows him distinguished favors when
at last destroyed.
But writers are unjust to Jeremiah when they simply
describe his political position as anti-Egyptian and pro<
Babylonian. - He was not in any proper sense pro-Baby-
lonian. So far as appears he refused the Babylonian
invitation to go to
honor. No prophet denounced
verely than he. His position is that of all the prophets,
opposed to all entangling alliances with foreign powers.
wanted nothing to do with
be kept, that good policy as well as good faith forbade
the breaking of it. He would accept Babylonish
supremacy for the time being as an accomplished
fact, in opposition to those who advocated continued
Similarly the career of Isaiah is throughout marked
by participation in national issues. In particular, he
works against the Assyrian alliance made by Isaiah and
Ahaz, and the opposing Babylonian or Egyp- Hosea as
tian alliances considered by Hezekiah. Hosea statesmen
equally positive in denouncing intrigues with
the northern and the southern kingdoms.
96 THE PROPHETS OF
It was characteristic of the politics of the prophets
that they were a bond of unity between the northern
Prophetic and the southern kingdoms. Judaean proph-
ideal of a ets such as Amos and Isaiah prophesied for
recognizing " both the houses of
and such northern prophets as Hosea and Elijah and
I, iii. I, 12, etc. ; Isa. ix. 9, 2I, xxviii. I, 3, etc.; 2 Chron.
xxi. 12 ; 2 Ki. iii. 14 ; Hos. i. I I, iii. 4-5, xi. 12, etc.).
The northern prophets recognize some sort of alle-
as due to
as well as to their own kings. Those of both kingdoms
seek to keep alive the consciousness of
itish unity. They take pains to cultivate the fraternal
spirit. Hosea, and Amos less obviously, had a definite
programme for the reunion of the two kingdoms under
a king of the line of David. The marriage of Jehoram
and Athaliah probably indicates an earlier attempt in
the same direction.1
According to the record, Elijah and Elisha were party
leaders, though their public policy is less obvious to a
Elijah and superficial reader than that of some of the
Elisha as other prophets. For two generations before
statesmen the sudden coming of Elijah upon the scene,
the false worship of Yahaweh through the calves of
1 It is obvious that this marriage might supposably have resulted in the
acceptance of a prince of the house of David as heir to both the thrones.
Supposably this was the intention in the negotiations for the marriage.
Presumably the prophets favored it at the time, and built great hopes upon
it. There is much plausibility in the hypothesis that the forty-fifth Psalm
marriage song sung by a prophet of
hypothesis, the result was a grievous disappointment; but this would not
be the only time in history when statesmen and prophets have been out-
witted by a brilliant, wicked woman.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 97
while. Lately, under Jezebel, the worship of Baal has
been introduced, and the state church has largely gone
over to the new cult. This has increased the numbers
of the nonconformists, and their activity. Their ideal
would be a participation in the sacrifices at the one
of national sacrifice in
impracticable. As a protest against the false worship
of the state church, they make offerings of certain kinds
at many inconspicuous private altars. Unlike the ad-
herents of the state religion, they are inflexible in their
opposition to Baal, and thus draw upon themselves the
horrible persecutions of Jezebel. This drove them to
yet more desperate resistance. They formed the or-
ganizations known to us as the "sons of the prophets."
the Tishbites, "the settlement men of
(I Ki. xvii. I), of whom Elijah was one, were another
organization of the same sort. Elijah and Elisha were at
the head of these organizations. We get glimpses of them
going hither and thither, engaged in strenuous activities.
These people constituted in effect an ecclesiastical
and political party, in opposition to the existing govern-
ment. It is the familiar story of men professing to be
loyal to a king, but in revolt and even in arms against
his policy and his counsellors. John Knox and Mary
queen of Scots have not a better parallel in history
than that presented by Elijah in his relations with
Ahab — Ahab, brilliant, impulsive, well-meaning, but
weak when it came to resisting evil influences.1
1 Sometimes Elijah and Elisha, the leaders of the opposition, are in a
certain degree of favor at court. Their advice in public matters is sought,
and in some instances followed. When Elisha offers to speak in behalf of
the Shunamite to the king or the general of the army (2 Ki. iv. 13), it
98 The PROPHETS OF
In these several political affairs such prophets as
Elijah and Elisha, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, are simply
doing what other prophets of all dates were accustomed
to do. The Israelitish prophet was a statesman. Most
the distinguished statesmen of
2. Apart from their political activities, the prophets
were the reformers of their times.
Every age has need of men who shall lead in warfare
against organized evils, or against evils that are other-
wise rampant. Witness the efforts of John Howard in
the cause of prison reform, of William Wilberforce in
resistance to the slave trade and slavery, of John B.
Gough against intemperance in drink, of Henry Bergh
for the prevention of cruelty to animals, of Clara Barton
for the more humane care of wounded soldiers and
sailors. In matters analogous to these, the prophets
the leaders of reforms in
It is possible to mention here only a few of the
many questions of public struggle against evils which,
at different periods, engaged their activities, giving only
a reference or two, out of many that might be given,
seems to be with confidence that his word will be influential. At other
times the situation becomes strained, even to the extent of bloody hostility.
When Elijah first appears in the narrative, he is in the act of presenting an
ultimatum to Ahab. Then he withdraws from relations with him, and. the
rupture lasts three years, in spite of Ahab's strong efforts for resumption
Ki. xviii. i, 1o). When he at last meets the king, the slaughter of
the destruction of Ahaziah's soldiers by fire from heaven may properly be
counted as battles between the contending parties. The effect of them
was salutary. The Baalites learned that Yahaweh's followers were not to
be murdered with impunity, and the persecutions were relaxed. And so
affairs moved on from year to year, until the prophets became convinced.
of the futility of their war against Jezebel so long as the existing dynasty
remained in power, and consequently instigated Jehu to the revolution in
which the house of Omri went down in blood.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 99
under each question. In addition to matters of reli-
gious reform, such matters as idolatry, the high places,
the support of the temple worship and the Some of the
like, they advocated reforms in the matter reforms which
of divorce, of licentiousness, of usury, of the prophets led
land monopoly, of drunkenness and dissipation, of sla-
very (Mal. ii. 10-16; Jer. v. 7-9, etc.; Neh. v; Ezek.
xviii. 8, etc.; Isa. v. 7-10, 11-22, etc.; Jer. xxxiv. 8-22).
More prominently than anything else they rebuke un-
equal and unkind practices in the administration of
justice, and inexorably demand reformation. It is
largely for purposes of reform that they engage in
public affairs. In the interests of reform we constantly
find them rebuking kings and priests and people, teach-
ing the populace, making public addresses, reading and
expounding the scriptures, organizing the prophetic
bands and other enginery for forming public opinion.
3. Again, the prophets were evangelistic preachers
Their writings which we have show this. The histori-
cal books of the bible are narrative sermons. They so
present history as to make it preach to us on the sub-
ject of our duties to God and men. Most of the other
prophetic books are volumes either of sermons or of
homiletical poems or tracts. In a good many instances
a passage in the prophets becomes intelligible only when
we recognize it as a syllabus or brief sketch of an ad-
dress that was much longer when delivered orally.
In other ways than by their discourses they exerted
an evangelistic influence. We have already had our
attention called to the organizations of the times of
Samuel and of Elijah and of Elisha. These were not
mere literary institutions for giving instruction to young
lads, but systematic arrangements for exerting an in-
100 THE PROPHETS OF
fluence; as we should now say, arrangements for Chris-
I have called this function evangelistic. It was some-
thing quite apart from the priestly function of main-
taining ordinary services of public worship. It was
aggressive and missionary in its character. But it
would not be altogether amiss to say that it was also
evangelistic in the sense of the proclamation of good
news. Some of the distinctive doctrines taught by the
prophets, particularly the doctrine of a Messiah., will be
considered later. They came very much nearer than we
sometimes imagine to possessing and preaching what: we
now call the gospel. At all events they urged the cardinal
duties of repentance, faith, love, change of heart, the fear
of God, public and private obedience to his requirements.
The work of the prophets as ethical and religious
preachers is on the whole that which is most kept in
the foreground in the descriptions given of them. in
the bible. What they did as public men or reformers
or writers of literature might be said to be branches
of their work as preachers.
4. Yet again, the prophets were the literary men. of
It is fashionable in some quarters to assert that they
not become writers till the time of
Isaiah ; but by using a concordance of proper names
any one can easily convince himself that the scriptures
attribute literary authorship to prophets earlier than
these. Express mention is made of it in the case of
Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Gad, Nathan, David, Asaph,
Heman, Ethan, Jeduthun, Solomon, Ahijah, Jedo, Iddo,
Shemaiah, Jehu, Elijah, and this constitutes an implica-
tion that others also engaged in literary work. Such
work is yet more prominently characteristic of the
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 101
prophets of later times, whose names are attached to
the books we now possess.
who were not prophets does not appear from the evi-
dence ; though it is natural to think that the men who
are mentioned in connection with public affairs under
the title of scribe or recorder were not in all cases
prophets. That there was an extensive literature in
addition to that now preserved in the bible appears
from the references which the biblical writers make to
books by their titles. We shall have occasion to speak
more in full of the literary work of the prophets when we
come to speak of them as the writers of the scriptures.
5. In connection with these naturalistic functions of
the prophet there are two or three points which we
ought not to neglect.
(a) The distinction between primary and secondary
prophets here becomes important. In our study of the
external history, our attention was called to Different
the fact of the great numbers of the prophets kinds of
at all periods between Samuel and Nehemiah. prophets
This may seem to be a strange fact, when one's atten-
tion is first called to it. Is it not inconsistent with the
idea that the prophets are rare and special messengers
In reply to this question it should be said that the
prophets who were regarded as having supernatural
gifts were probably more numerous than many suppose,
though not so numerous but that they were always rela-
tively rare. But the majority of those who are called
prophets were doubtless secondary prophets, the "sons
of the prophets," members of the prophetic organiza-
tions, or in some other capacity disciples of the prophets
who were highly gifted. These secondary prophets
102 THE PROPHETS OF
were associated with the others in public or evangelistic
or literary work. Most of the prophetic functions thus
far enumerated were shared by them, and the term
"prophet" was naturally extended to them.
Very likely a large proportion of the very numerous
false prophets were secondary prophets who had be-
come misled, though some of them were doubtless mere
counterfeits. It is not necessary to think that the false
prophets generally were men who were acknowledged
as having supernatural gifts from Yahaweh.
(b) We should note, further, that a prophet, in virtue
of his being a statesman or a reformer or a preacher or
The prophet, an author, is likely to have been at once a
both local cosmopolitan man and a man who had local
and cosmo- and temporary interests. While he was emi-
politan nently one concerned with the whole world and
with all future time, he was at the same time eminently
practical, dealing with the concerns of his own locality and
his own generation.
It hinders a correct understanding of the writings of
the prophets to ignore the local and temporary element
in them. In the main they are composed of the same
sorts of material with sermons and reform addresses.
They contain the truths with which the prophets tried
to move the consciences of the men of their times and
of all future time. Predictions, for example, were to
them matters of supernatural revelation. They used
them just as they and we use scripture texts, to en-
force the practical message in hand. Isa. ii-iv, for
example, is a sermon preached from the prediction, ii.
2-4, as a text, the sermon being of the nature of rebuke
and counsel to the men of that generation.
Equally fatal, however, to correct interpretation, and
now more widely prevalent, is the mistake of too much
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 103
restricting the prophecies to local and temporary mean-
ings. Doubtless most of the prophetic discourses had
some specific local purpose to accomplish; but the dis-
course would seek its ends through those general appli-
cations of truth in which all men alike are capable of
being influenced, and not through those only which were
peculiar to their own times. The universalness that
differentiates literature is especially marked in these
In reading the prophecies we are to recognize a local
allusion or statement when we find one, just as we are
to recognize a prediction when we find one; but we are
not violently to give to any passage either a local char-
acter or a predictive character, as if the meaning of the
passage depended upon this. The Israelites of Isaiah's
time, for example, needed divine teaching because of
the peculiarities of the age and land in which they
lived. But they needed it yet more because they were
human sinners, like the men of all countries in all ages.
(c) Yet again, so far as the functions we have been
considering go, the Hebrew prophets have their coun-
terparts both in the Christian church and elsewhere.
These counterparts are of' two different kinds.
First, any adherent of the true religion may be said
to prophesy when the Spirit of God gives him a special
message for the edification of others. No A sense in which
miracle is needed for this, but only that illu- all devout persons
mination which devout persons sometimes are prophets
enjoy, and which God offers to all. In Paul's epistle
we have details concerning the gift of prophecy as
possessed by members of the Corinthian church (I Cor.
xiv). The gift as described here and elsewhere in the
New Testament does not necessarily differ from that
set forth in the Old Testament. And, within limits,
104 THE PROPHETS OF
prophesying still abounds among earnestly religious
people. One who speaks for God in some special and
marked message, in a Christian meeting, exercises so
far forth the gift of prophecy.
But again, in a quite different sense, any gifted person,
raised up by God for some marked and especial pur-
A sense in pose of reform or training for the age in
which great which he lives, has some of the marks of a
leaders are prophet. This is true if the man is earnestly
prophets religious, and it remains true even if he is irreligious
or falsely religious. The New Testament goes so far as
to say that Caiaphas prophesied (Jn. xi. 51), and its
writers call Balaam a prophet, and the heathen poet of
believe that God raises up the great men of history, the
bad as well as the good, for the accomplishing of special
purposes. To attribute to such men, within properly
defined limits, the character of prophets is to say what
is distinctly true.
There are reasons, perhaps decisive reasons, against
ordinarily using the term "prophet" and the term "inspi-
ration" in such ways as these. Unless carefully, defined,
the terms when so used are likely to be misunderstood
and to be misleading; and if you delay every time for
definition, the terms are liable to lose all their energy.
But it is correct to illustrate the naturalistic functions of
and the term "inspiration," so far forth, to men of all
times and races; to say, for example, that Shakespeare
1 "Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrongdoing; . . . a
dumb ass spake with man's voice and stayed the madness of the prophet"
(2 Pet. ii. 15-16).
"One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always
liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons " (Tit. i. 12).
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 105
was a prophet of God, divinely inspired for the pur-
pose of producing certain effects upon the literature and
and human character of
There are disputants who say such things as these by
way of denying that the prophets had any divine mes-
sage different from those of other leaders in human
thought. One who opposes this denial will have a great
advantage if he fully acknowledges the reality and the
prominence of the naturalistic functions of the prophets,
such functions as we have thus far been considering.
Over a wide range their activities were like those of
other religious men at any time in history. Again, over
a wide range their activities were like those of other
leaders of thought, at any date or of any blood.
II. But an account of the prophets which should stop
at this point would be so incomplete as to be thoroughly
erroneous. The scriptures affirm that the prophets, in
addition to these naturalistic activities, exercised dis-
tinctly supernatural powers.
The facts we have been looking at are genuine, and
are essential to an adequate view of the subject. But
they are entirely subordinate as compared with certain
other facts. The bible prophets also claim functions
that imply superhuman gifts—functions that differ in
kind, and not merely in degree, from those thus far
mentioned. They claim an inspiration different from
that which they possess in common with other men.
And this higher inspiration they claim, not merely for
purposes of prediction, but for other activities as well.
Elisha working miracles, Daniel revealing the king's
dream, or any prophet uttering a rebuke that came by
revelation, lays claim to superhuman gifts as really as a
prophet who foretells the future.
106 THE PROPHETS OF
These superhuman activities may be spoken of in
Pave classes: the working of miracles, the disclosing
of secrets, the foretelling of events, the revealing of
Yahaweh's law, the teaching of the doctrine of the
Messiah. The last two of these will be considered at
length in subsequent chapters. The first three we will
now discuss very briefly.
First, the prophets claim to have wrought miracles.
We need not, in order to prove this, claim that every
The prophet wonderful event narrated in the Old Testa-
a worker of ment is a miracle. Men of the past have
miracles mistakenly interpreted marvels into the bible.
Perhaps it is true that even some of the most stupendous
interpositions in which Yahaweh manifested himself to
natural laws. There are those who think that the cross-
combination of wind and tide, occurring at a certain
in the affairs of
sinking of a broken tract of ground into a deposit of
products; and that
of a landslide above into the river; and that it was
Arabs rather than ravens that brought bread and flesh
to Elijah. We need not go into the discussion of such
instances. The question in each case is a question as
to the meaning of the testimony ; and the divine inter-
position is equally signal whether we can or cannot ac-
count for the events by the known laws of nature. But
when we have gone as far as possible in accounting natu-
ralistically for the deeds done by the prophets, it will
still remain true that they claimed the ability sometimes
to effect supernatural results. Familiar instances are the
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 107
done by Moses in
death the boy at Sarepta, and his calling down fire from
heaven, Elisha's multiplying the oil, causing the iron to
swim, raising to life the Shunamite's child.
Secondly, the prophets claimed to be able to disclose
secrets by supernatural help. Instances of this, familiar
to all, are those of Joseph before Pharaoh, of The prophet
Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar, of Elisha in a discloser of
the matter of the raids planned by the king secrets
Thirdly, the prophets claimed to predict the future.
In proof that they made this claim, and appealed to
fulfilled prediction as accrediting their com- The prophet
mission from Yahaweh, one need only read a predicter
such a passage as Isa. xli–xlv (especially xli. of events
22-23, 26, xlii. 9, xliii. 9, 12, 18-19, etc.). This claim
stands in the less need of being discussed, on account
of our being so familiar with it. The predictions of the
prophets form the staple of one of the familiar arguments
for the divine origin of the religion of the bible.
Of course the validity of this argument depends in
each instance on the question whether the prediction is
specific enough to distinguish the case to which it re-
fers from all other cases. The threats of the prophets
Those against each of these are different from those
of the argument lies in the degree in which the differ-
ences in the fulfilments correspond with those in the
Probably no one denies that the prophets made many
predictions that were remarkably fulfilled. Certain
scholars affirm, however, that many of their predictions
108 THE PROPHETS OF
are also shown by the events to have been false. Whether
one accepts this charge as true will depend on his in-
terpretations of the facts. Many predictions have been
understood in senses in which they failed to conform to
the events; but against the charge that untruthful pre-
dictions abound in the utterances of the prophets of
I am not now concerned to prove that the prophets
actually exercised these supernatural abilities — that
At least they they wrought miracles, foretold the future,
claimed disclosed hidden things ; I am only concerned
superhuman to call attention to the fact that they claimed
powers to exercise them. Some proofs that their claim
was well founded will come later. The fact now before us
is that they make the claim, constantly appealing to
these abilities as proving their divine commission. If
one has convinced himself that miracles never occur, he
will of course refuse even to consider this claim ; but
if one's mind is open to conviction on this point, he
must take these claims into the account. Indeed, they
constitute a part of the phenomena of the case, even
from the point of view of one who holds them to be
Without particularizing further, let us note that all
the prophetic functions of every sort are capable of
The mono- being generalized into a single statement.
The religion of
religion of tain type, the monotheism of the worship of
Yahaweh Yahaweh. Christianity and Mohammedanism,
two more bulky successors of the religion of
this same type of monotheism. We are all worshippers
in all Israelitish or Christian or Moslem civilizations.
The great work of the prophets, the one essential work,
THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET 109
the giving of this type of monotheism to
According to the claim of its adherents, Yahaweh re-
vealed this monotheism to men by the process of first
causing history to be transacted, and then causing a
record of the transactions to be made. The prophets
were the public men who had the greatest part in trans-
acting the history. They were the literary men who
made the record of the history. They were the preachers
who interpreted to men the ethical and spiritual lessons
of the history. They claim to have been the inspired
seers who perceived and made known Yahaweh's pur-
pose in the history. All their functions, natural and
supernatural, may be summed up in this brief descriptive
clause, the revealing of the monotheism of Yahaweh to
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE — HOW GIVEN TO HIM, AND HOW
UTTERED BY HIM
WE have found that the Israelitish sacred literature
presents the prophet to us as a citizen like others, dis-
tinguished only by the fact that he has an especial mes-
sage from Deity to his fellow-citizens. In the delivery
of this message we have found him acting in the char-
acter of statesman, reformer, preacher, author, and
claiming powers and authority from the realm of the
supernatural. The question arises: Were there any
distinctive peculiarities in the mode in which he re-
ceived his message, and in the mode in which he uttered
it? Our sources give us some detailed information on
these points. We take up the two parts of the question
in their order.
I. First, how the prophet's message was revealed to
him. What was the source of his inspiration ? What
were the modes in which it made itself apparent?
I. The source of his inspiration is represented to be
the Spirit of Yahaweh, variantly called also the Spirit
Save in exceptional instances the Hebrew word for
spirit is feminine; but like the word for soul, also femi-
nine, it may denote a masculine person. When per-
sonally used, its suggestions are masculine rather than
feminine.l The prophetic gift is said to be by the Spirit
1 The word denotes either spirit or wind. In both meanings it is regu-
larly feminine. The lexicons give certain instances in which it is mascu-
line when denoting wind (Ex. x. 13; I Ki. xix. 11; Jer. iv. 11; Job viii.
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE 111
coming upon the prophet, coming mightily upon him,
being put upon him or within him, being given, being
poured out. This could best be studied by looking up
all the numerous passages, with the aid of a concordance.
We will recall a few of them, mostly those that are very
Every one remembers the instance when Moses, at
Yahaweh's command, took the seventy elders to the tent
of meeting outside the camp, and Yahaweh Prophets in-
took of the Spirit which was upon Moses, spired by the
and put it upon them, and they prophesied. spirit to
Eldad and Medad, two of the men whose names were speak
in the list, did not go with the others, and the Spirit
came upon them where they were, and they prophesied
in the camp. That the Spirit here spoken of is the
Spirit of Yahaweh is throughout distinctly implied, and
in one verse is explicitly stated (Num. xi. 16—17, 25—29).
In the passage from Joel, cited by Peter at the pente-
cost, we read: —
"I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and
your daughters shall prophesy . . . And also upon the servants
and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit"
(RV of Joel ii. 28-29; cf. Acts ii. 16-18).
Samuel said to Saul: "The Spirit of Yahaweh will
come mightily upon thee, and thou wilt prophesy."
2), but there is room for doubt. When used personally the word very
naturally passes into a masculine.
"A spirit passed before my face " (Job iv. 15).
"Renew thou within me a spirit that is made ready " (Ps. li. 10).
"The Spirit of Yahaweh spake by me" (2 Sam. xxiii. 2).
"My Spirit shall not strive with man forever" (Gen. vi. 3).
"The Spirit of Yahaweh will take thee up" (I Ki. xxiii. 12).
"Lest the Spirit of Yahaweh hath taken him up" (2 Ki. ii. i6).
"And the Spirit came forth and stood before Yahaweh."
"Which way went the Spirit of Yahaweh from with me to speak with
thee?" (i Ki. xxii. 21, 24).
112 THE PROPHETS OF
Accordingly, the narrator says, "the Spirit of Deity
came mightily upon him, and he prophesied " (I Sam.
x. 6, 10). In a little prophetic song attributed to David
the singer says: —
"The Spirit of Yahaweh spake by me" (2 Sam. xxiii. 2).
In the prayer in Nehemiah the worshippers say to
"And thou testifiedst against them by thy Spirit by the hand of
the prophets " (Neh. ix. 30).
Micah says: —
"I truly am full of power by the Spirit of Yahaweh" (iii. 8, cf. ii.
Hosea uses the parallelism : —
"The prophet is a fool,
The man of the Spirit is made mad" (ix. 7).
Similar instances might be multiplied. In particular
the book of Isaiah is full of them. It became customary
to connect adjectives with the Spirit, describing him as
Yahaweh's " good Spirit " (Neh. ix. 20; Ps. cxliii. 10), or
his "holy Spirit" (Isa. lxiii. 10-11; cf. Ps. li. 11  ).
If one should undertake to make a count of the instances,
he ought not to omit those in which the divine name is
represented by a pronoun (e.g. Gen. vi. 3; Pss. cvi. 33,
cxxxix. 7; Isa. xxx. I).
Our survey of the subject of the Spirit that inspired
the prophets is not complete till we have looked at a
Deeds of very different class of manifestations of the
men inspired Spirit of Yahaweh. In the narrative concern-
by the Spirit ing Elijah we are told of the Spirit's carrying
him away, rendering him invisible (I Ki. xviii. 12; 2 Ki.
ii. 16). Marvellous acts of this nature are not often at-
tributed to the Spirit; but marvellous acts in the form
of great achievements of men are as prominently so
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE 113
attributed as even the inspiring of the messages of the
prophets. Samson's exhibitions of wonderful strength,
for example, were by "the Spirit of Yahaweh "coming
"mightily" upon him (Jud. xiii. 25, xiv. 6, 19, xv. 14).
It was when "the Spirit of Yahaweh " came upon
Othniel and Gideon and Jephthah (Jud. iii. lo, vi. 34,
xi. 29) and others, that they wrought the exploits by
Yahaweh came mightily unto David," its presence was
probably manifested by David's achievements quite as
much as by his words; and the removal of the Spirit
from Saul was probably indicated by his failure in
achievement (I Sam. xvi. 13, 14). The Isaian singer says
"They rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit." "Where is he that
put his holy Spirit in the midst of them? that caused his glorious
arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the water before
In saying this he attributes to Moses the great deeds of
the exodus, and not the great words only.
At first thought, the qualifying a man for war or states-
manship, and especially the qualifying a man for such
athletic feats as those of Samson, by an inrush of
spiritual influence, seems to be very different from the
qualifying a prophet to utter a divine message; but
certainly there is no incongruity between the two. Es-
pecially should this idea find a hospitable reception
among us of the present generation, now that we have
introduced athletics so prominently among our appli-
ances for Christian service.
More difficult is the case where the four hundred
prophets are prophesying in the name of Yahaweh
before Ahab and Jehoshaphat, and Micaiah has his
vision of "the Spirit" proposing to be a lying spirit
114 THE PROPHETS OF
in the mouths of the prophets, and finding his offer
acceptable to Yahaweh (I Ki. xxii. 21, 24); but we are
Micaiah's not at liberty to evade the difficulty by omit-
lying spirit ting this passage from our induction. This
seems to me to be a truly oriental instance of extremism
in the use of figure of speech. These prophets, profess-
ing to be moved by the Spirit of Yahaweh, were prophe-
sying falsehood. Micaiah says that it is as if the Spirit
of Yahaweh had become a lying spirit in them in order
to deceive Ahab to his destruction. That is all that they
understood him to mean. They did not understand
that in fact the Spirit became a lying spirit.l
What is the Spirit of Yahaweh as delineated in the
passages we have studied? To this question I give here
no philosophical or theological answer. The answer
The nature that lies verbally in the accounts is clear.
of the Spirit The Spirit is effluent energy from Yahaweh
of Yahaweh the infinite Spirit. But if we stop with this,
the answer is incomplete. This effluent energy is
spoken of in terms of personality. But the language
used concerning the Spirit of Yahaweh is different from
that used concerning the many personal spirits whom
these writers conceive of as doing the errands of the
supreme Spirit.2 The inspiring Spirit is one, and is
spoken of in terms that are definite. If we were con-
fined to the instances in which other divine names
than Yahaweh are used, there might be room for disput-
1 The English versions try to solve the difficulty by translating, "a
spirit," a translation that is within the limits of possibility. Other solutions
have been proposed. In Deity's causing or permitting Ahab to be de-
ceived, we have simply one more unsolved detail in the unsolved problem
of the origin of evil.
2 Of these Saul's evil spirit is a familiar instance (1 Sam. xvi. 14b, xix.
9). Job says: "A spirit passed before my face" (iv. 15). "He maketh
his angels spirits " (Ps. civ. 4).
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE 115
ing this, but concerning "the Spirit of Yahaweh" there
is no room for doubt. And it is reasonably certain that
"the Spirit of Deity" in such cases as those of Bezalel,
Balaam, Azariah, Zechariah (Ex. xxxi. 3, xxxv. 31;
Num. xxiv. 2; 2 Chron. xv. 1, xxiv. 20), is the same
with "the Spirit of Yahaweh." In fine, this Spirit that
inspires the prophets is presented to us as a unique
being, having personal characteristics, effluent from Ya-
haweh the supreme Spirit of the universe, at once iden-
tical with and different from Yahaweh.
2. We turn to the question of the modes in which
it is represented that the Spirit gave the prophet his
In books of reference these are usually classified, I
believe, as three; namely, by dreams, by visions, by direct
communication. This classification seems to Modes of revelation
me inadequate. It is based in part on the as commonly
assumption that the words from the stem classified
zaah, to see, are interchangeable with those from the
stem hhazah, to see. This assumption, as we have seen
in Chapter II, is not confirmed by a close examination
of the instances.
Partly on the ground of the difference between these
two sets of terms, and partly on other grounds, it seems
to me that a better classification of the modes Abetter
of revelation to the prophets is the following: classification
first, dreams; second, picture-visions ; third, visions of
insight; fourth, theophanies. The understanding of
this classification will be the vindication of it, provided
it is capable of being vindicated. When we understand
it, we shall see that it is really the classification that is
implied in the statements of the bible.
(a) The first of these four modes of revelation is that
by dreams. The number of passages in which this
116 THE PROPHETS OF
mode is recognized is considerable, and the recognition
is distinct; and yet the impression is made that this
mode is regarded as of a lower type than the others.
General statements concerning revelation by dreams
abound. In the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, in
General the directions given for testing a prophet's
mention of claims, the phrase "a prophet or a dreamer
prophetic of dreams " is three times repeated, as if one
dreams might be a prophet in virtue of his being a dreamer
of dreams (Deut. xiii. 1, 3, 5 [2, 4, 6] ). In the account
of the incident when Miriam and Aaron "spake against
Moses," Yahaweh says : —
"If there be a prophet among you; I . . . will make myself
known unto him in a vision, I will speak with him in a dream"
(Num. xii. 6).
We are told that King Saul resorted to the witch of
Endor because Yahaweh did not answer him
"by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" (i Sam. xxviii. 6, 15).
Very familiar is the promise in Joel: —
"Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men
shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (ii. 28).
Job recognizes God's speaking "in a dream, in a vision
of the night," and complains of God's scaring him with
dreams, and terrifying him through visions (xxxiii. 15,
vii. 14). Jeremiah lays down the following rule as ap-
plicable even when sham prophetic dreams abound: —
"The prophet that bath a dream, let him tell a dream, and he
that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the
straw to the wheat? saith Yahaweh" (xxiii. 28).
Observe, however, that it is possible, in each of these
instances, so to interpret as to make the dream an
inferior mode of revelation. I do not say that this is
the true interpretation, but it is a possible one. And
THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE 117