THE PROPHETS AND THE

                           PROMISE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                 BY

                                            WILLIS JUDSON BEECHER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                        Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt at Gordon College 2005


  1905 by Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.

 


                                     PREFACE

 

             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.

 


                                          CONTENTS

 

                                          CHAPTER I

 

                                        PRELIMINARY

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

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

method                                                                                                                       9

            III. Points concerning the treatment. Outline. Certain matters

of detail                                                                                                                      15

 

                                                PART I

            

                                          THE PROPHETS

 

                                             CHAPTER II

 

               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.

Massa. Hittiph. Metaphorical terms                                                                       21

            Terms used at all dates. Interchangeable as to the person de-

noted. Three degrees of extension. Raving                                                             32

 

                                            CHAPTER III

               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

 

                                                       vii

 


viii                               CONTENTS

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

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

 

                                        CHAPTER IV

             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

noteworthy                                                                                                                 85

                                             CHAPTER V

               THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET—NATURALISTIC

                                AND SUPERNATURALISTIC

 

            Introductory. Guarding against mistaken assumptions. The

name indicates the function. Passages that outline the prophetic

function                                                                                                                      88

            I.  Naturalistic functions. They were public men. Jeremiah as

a statesman. Isaiah and Hosea as statesmen. Prophetic ideal of

a reunited Israel. Elijah and Elisha as statesmen. The prophets

were reformers. Some of their reforms. They were preachers of


                                                CONTENTS                                                               ix

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

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

Yahaweh                                                                                                                     105

 

                                             CHAPTER VI

                                 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

excitation                                                                                                                   110

            II. How uttered by him. Prophetic object lessons. Types.

No double meanings.  Manifold fulfilment. Generic prophecy.

The art of persuasive speech                                                                                    125

 

                                           CHAPTER VII

                 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

x                                              CONTENTS

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

            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

authority                                                                                                                     168

 

                                                  PART II

                                            THE PROMISE

         

                                            CHAPTER VIII

            THE PROMISE–DOCTRINE AS TAUGHT IN THE NEW

                                              TESTAMENT

 

            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

 

                                                 CHAPTER IX

                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


                                        CONTENTS                                                                       xi

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

            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

 

                                       CHAPTER X

           THE PROMISE AS RENEWED TO ISRAEL AND TO

                                            DAVID

 

            I. For the times of the exodus. Israel Yahaweh's people

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

Abraham and Israel, and therefore for mankind. The rest promise.

"To thee for a people." "One nation in the earth." Yahaweh's

son. The torah of mankind. Critical views. Contemporary in-

terpretation                                                                                                                228

 

                                           CHAPTER XI

           THE PROMISE–DOCTRINE OF THE PROPHETS AND

                                            PSALMISTS

 

            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.

Israel for the nations. The promise for eternity and irrevocable.

Modes of thinking that it created.    Israel as the people of the

promise. Mediatorial suffering                                                                                252

            Critical questions                                                                                          261


xii                                            CONTENTS

 

                                          CHAPTER XII

                        MESSIANIC TERMS. THE SERVANT

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

            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

said to be Israel. Interpreting the instances. The promise point

of view. The Israel of the promise. Instances that are less explicit.

Servants. The Servant speaking in the first person. Israel's mis-

sion to himself. Isaiah xlii. 1—4. Isaiah lii. i3-liii. Mediatorial

sufferings                                                                                                                   270

            III. Servant a representative term. Two one-sided interpre-

tations. The true interpretation. Universalness. A glimpse at the

fulfilments                                                                                                                 285

 

                                            CHAPTER XIII

                 MESSIANIC TERMS. THE KINGDOM AND ITS

                                         ANOINTED KING

 

            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

presentation                                                                                                               304

                                             CHAPTER XIV

         MESSIANIC TERMS. YAHAWEH'S HHASIDH. OTHER

                                                   TERMS

           

            I. Hhasidh. Its derivation and meaning. Outline of instances.

Yahaweh as hhasidh. The hhasidhim are Israelites as people of

the promise. Not a sect. Israel a hhasidh nation. Hhasidh as

equivalent to Anointed one. The instances where the readings

vary. Summary. The Asideans. In the New Testament                                            313


                                                CONTENTS                                                   xiii

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

            II. The Chosen one. Meshullam. The Called one. Jeshurun.

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

 

                                             CHAPTER XV

                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

antitypal                                                                                                                      344

            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.

Israel's priesthood. Victim and priest                                                                      357

            IV. Other matters. Persons or objects as types. Particular

passages. In fine, almost all Old Testament details                                                361

 

                                            CHAPTER XVI

                    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

Israel, in the religions of Yahaweh, in Christ                                                         375

 


xiv                                              CONTENTS

 

                                                 CHAPTER XVII

                           THE APOLOGETIC VALUE OF PROPHECY

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

            Introductory. The old argument. Need of restatement. Our

conclusions thus far provisional; are they true ? Theistic pre-

suppositions                                                                                                               387

            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.

Fulfilled in the secular history of Israel. Eternal fulfilment? Media-

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

             PROMISE

 

 

                                CHAPTER I

 

                              PRELIMINARY

 

            THE prophets of Israel: what manner of men they

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

doctrine they taught concerning Israel's peculiar rela-

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.

 

                                        3





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

 


                           PRELIMINARY                            5

 

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

in dealing with the subject of the prophets of Israel.

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

to us.

            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

beginners.

 


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

contrary.

            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.

 


                           PRELIMINARY                               7

 

            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

gives a truthful account of the prophets of Israel, what

 


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-

pose it.

            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

results.

            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

 


                             PRELIMINARY                              9

 

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-

tive Religion.

            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

the process.

            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

 


                               PRELIMINARY                   11

 

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

 


                              PRELIMINARY                        13

 

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

give us facts concerning the religion of Israel, in oppo-

sition to the specific evidence we have concerning that

religion.

            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

Israel was primitive in the times of the judges, and

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

 

existed in Babylonia or Egypt. Who knows that the

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

evidence.

            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.

 


                         PRELIMINARY                           15

 

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

Israel. A series of the biographies of the prophets

would be a complete history of Israel. This particularly

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,

 


                           PRELIMINARY                    17

 

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

established practice.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                     PART I

 

 

 

                  THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 


               

           

 

                              CHAPTER II

 

 

   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

predict.

            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.

 

                                              21

 


22             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

the prophets.

            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 ISRAEL

 

            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 Israel in beholdings by night" (Gen. xlvi. 2 E).

            "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.

15)

            "The heavens were opened, and I beheld beholdings from Deity"

(Ezek. i. I).

            "A spirit . . . brought me in to Jerusalem, with beholdings from De-

ity" (Ezek. viii. 3).

            "With beholdings from Deity he brought me in unto the land of

Israel " (Ezek. xl. 2).


26             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

instance: —

            "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

river of Chebar; and I fell upon my face" (Ezek. xliii. 3). The meaning

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

bush.

            "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 Chaldea unto the ex-

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-

festation?

            "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.

13-14).

            "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 ISRAEL

 

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

never.

            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-

cant.


   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,

etc.).

            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"

(Deut. v. 5). Isaiah says: "Out of Zion law shall go

forth, and the word of, Yahaweh from Jerusalem " (ii. 3).

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 ISRAEL

 

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).

            The word massa, "burden," is used to denote a

prophecy of a certain kind, from the days of Elisha,

                        and later. A massa is poetic in form, and

Massa             in most cases minatory in character, and

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

Babylon," "Burden of Moab," "Burden of Damascus "

(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

not minatory, the King James's version translates massa

in the title by "prophecy." The revised version every-

where proposes "oracle " as the alternative translation

of the word.  Massa seems to be used in 1 Chron. xv.

22, 27, to denote the singing when David brought the

ark to Jerusalem, and this may possibly indicate 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 ISRAEL

 

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,

to translate massa in Prov. xxx. 1, xxxi. 1, and to translate the hhazah

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

I Sam. ix. 9, I0, II, cf. x. 5, IO, II, I2, I3). Massa

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

Israel and the prophets of the nations.


 

 

 

                               CHAPTER III

 

 

    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

Israel in the form of a series of biographies of the

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-

 

                                              36  


 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

institution.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

gifts.1

            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

made: —

            "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

of Abraham.


40               THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

vision (Gen. xv. I, 4 E). A very prominent part of his

experiences consists in those when Yahaweh " appeared "

to him.1

            "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-

bidding him to go down into Egypt as Abraham had

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

him to return to Palestine (Gen. xxxi. 11, E). God ap-

peared to him at Bethel, after his return from Paddan-

aram (Gen. xxxv. 9 P). When he was about to go

down into Egypt,

            "God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night" (Gen. xlvi.

2E).

 

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 Palestine,

"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 Israel, like unto Moses" (Deut.

xxxiv. so).

" And by a prophet Yahaweh brought up Israel out of Egypt, and by a

prophet he was guarded" (Hos. xii. 13 [14]).


42                    THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

the overthrow of Pharaoh at the Red Sea (Ex. xv. 20 E).

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

prophets.2

 

            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

said of the elders of Israel: —

 

            "They had vision of Deity, and did eat and drink " (Ex. xxiv.

11 J).

 

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 "

                        (vii. 14).

            "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 ISRAEL

 

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-

sianic prophecy.

            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 Israel in Canaan

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

to Israel in the days of Gideon (Jud. vi. 8), and we

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

their experience.

            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-

appeared from Israel. The same fact is implied in the

statement concerning the recognition of Samuel.

            "And all Israel knew, from Dan and even unto Beer-Sheba, that

Samuel was made sure for a prophet to Yahaweh. And again

Yahaweh appeared in Shiloh ; for Yahaweh disclosed himself unto

Samuel in Shiloh in the word of Yahaweh " (I Sam. iii. 20-21).

 

            From these statements it has been inferred that there

was no prophecy in Israel before Samuel. This infer-

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 ISRAEL

 

in contrast with the poverty which directly preceded, it

equally implies that there had been an earlier time

when Yahaweh appeared in Shiloh by his prophetic

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

Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the

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

revealed myself unto the house of thy father when they were in Egypt,"

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

prophecy in Israel came down from the earliest times.

            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

sixty years.

            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


48             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

hiding places within the borders of Judah, and he was

the prophet consulted when Oman's threshing floor

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,

etc.; 2 Chron. iii. I. Also Acts ii. 30). In these and

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

ark to Jerusalem and the giving of the great promise occurred after Yaha-

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

after them.

            2 "In that night Deity appeared to Solomon." "In Gibeon Yahaweh




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

In his account of the last reigns in Judah he makes

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-

other prophet who came from Judah, when Jeroboam

was king, and prophesied against the altar of Bethel,

and of an old prophet who entertained him (I Ki. xiii ;

2 Ki. xxiii. 17-18). Josephus says that the prophet

from Judah was named Jadon. In Chronicles, Jedo or

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 ISRAEL

 

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

(xii. 15).1

            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

Jeroboam ten.


THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS       51

 

surprised that he is commonly regarded as the father of

prophecy.

            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

affirm that the word "prophet " was new in Israel when

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,

xi. 9).

            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 [20]; 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

writings.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

prophet were now familiar in Israel, Saul was one of a

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

prophecy, both the word and the fact, as a gift to Israel

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

will tell us our way. (Formerly in Israel thus said the man when he went

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

seer."

            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

neighbor, What is it that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also

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

made most of Palestine tributary. Its distinguished

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

upon the book of the kings of Israel" (2 Chron. xix. 2,

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 ISRAEL

 

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

victory over Syria (1 Ki. xx. 13). Later in the same

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

king.

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

this class is the old prophet of Bethel (1 Ki. xiii).

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 ISRAEL

 

period. In the latter part of the period, Jehu the king

is represented as using the word massa, "burden," in the

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

region and besieged Jerusalem (2 Ki. xii. 17-xiii. 9 and

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

dealings with Edom. The brief prophecy pictures two

historical situations, — that of Edom's offence, and that

of Edom's punishment. The offence-situation, it seems

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 Israel, from the entering in of

Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Yahaweh

the god of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah the son

of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher" (2 Ki. xiv. 25).


58             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

king in Israel and Uzziah in Judah, perhaps making

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.

The title to his book mentions the same kings of Judah

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

situation in which the separate kingdoms of Judah and

Ephraim are in existence, and in which Assyria is the

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

a prophet of Judah.

            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

Judah (2 Chron. xxviii. 9).

            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

Israel (vii. 14), but this allusion stands alone.

 

            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 unto Israel and unto Judah by the hand of every

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 [11]). 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 ISRAEL

 

            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

noun which they render "see" and "seer." Massa,

"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-

ess Huldah, then living in Jerusalem (2 Ki. xxii. 14 and

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 [14]). "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

brought by some form of extradition from Egypt and

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

the king of Babylon (Jer. xxix. 21-23). Shemaiah the

Nehelamite prophesied, causing the people to trust in a

lie, and sent letters to Jerusalem reviling Jeremiah as a

madman, and was divinely punished ( Jer. xxix. 24, 28, 31,

32). The last named and possibly some of the others

prophesied in Babylonia among the exiles.

            The fifth subperiod is that of the prophets in Babylonia

during the seventy years of the exile. It begins with

the earlier deportations by Nebuchadnezzar from Jeru-

salem, nearly twenty years before the burning of the

temple, and thus overlaps the preceding subperiod, the


62             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

Babylonia           that were held twenty years ago, many scholars

among the exiles   exiles would add a yet greater name, that of the sup-

posed second Isaiah. These prophets flourished in the

country of the Euphrates, and are thus placed in a dif-

ferent class from their contemporaries in Palestine,

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 ISRAEL

 

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

Testament.

            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

in Israel, such as had not occurred since the time that

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

primitive Christianity.


 

 

 

                                 CHAPTER IV

 

 

   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

order.

            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

 

                                       66


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

Israel.

            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

history.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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 ISRAEL

 

            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

coat and a Derby hat in the forenoon and a dress suit

in the evening, our picture would be no more anachro-

nistic than that of current art, and would be far truer

in spirit.

            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

prophets of Israel were an exception?

            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

consult the unseen world; not so the writers of Israel.

With them the man is everything, and his dress nothing.

The record is, therefore, unique at this point, whether


72            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

the fact recorded be unique or not. Why should we

not hold that both are unique? Israel as existing to-day

is unique. Jesus Christ, of the stock of Israel, is unique.

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-

mite wrote to the officials at Jerusalem, asking them

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

the exiles in Babylonia. The prophet who came 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 "

(ix. 7).

 

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

them.

            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-

ligious.

            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

night."

 

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

another man."

            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

men.

            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

man.

            So much for the prophets as they presented themselves


76            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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-

pact.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

hours.

            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

blossoming out of Israel in the times of David and

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

religious movements.

            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

existed at Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal (2 Ki. ii. 3, 5, iv. 38),

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,

for the community at Jericho could send its fifty men to

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 ISRAEL

 

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"

(iv. 38-41).

            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-

naries.

            The "college" in Jerusalem, where, according to the

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

order.

 

            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

facts.

            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

the sense that Israel was never during that              a succession

time wholly without true living prophets or prophetic

men. This is probable, though it cannot at every point

be proved.

            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-

priesthood. In this the usage of Israel dif-              dotal order

fered from that of other peoples. In Egypt, for ex-

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

of the ten sacerdotal books " (History of Egypt, I, 447).

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 ISRAEL

 

And what was true of the prophets of Egypt has been

true of those of other countries. In Israel, however, the

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

been completed.

            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,"

not to Israel only, but to all the ages.


84           THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

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

of Hazael king over Syria, by an Israelite prophet

(1 Ki. xix. 15), is evidently something exceptional.

Equally so is the anointing of Jehu over Israel, in a

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

the religion of Israel is its proclamation that a manly

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

prophets.

            2 I suppose that no careful student will hold that the positions which I


86            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

            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-

ligion of Israel and other religions. The conception of

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.


                             

 

 

 

                                 CHAPTER V

 

 

THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET—NATURALISTIC AND

                         SUPERNATURALISTIC

 

 

            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-

ral gifts.

            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

 

                                         88


              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

whole.

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

duties, the exponents of the will of Yahaweh in Israel.

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 ISRAEL

 

            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

functions the      prophets. The civilization of Israel was not

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

defined: —

           

            "And Yahaweh said unto Moses, See, I have given thee as a

Deity to Pharaoh, Aaron thy brother being thy prophet " (Ex.

vii. 1).

 

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

to him.

            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

to Israel a prophet "from among their brethren," at his

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 ISRAEL

 

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 ISRAEL

 

            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

peculiar constitution of Israel, political and religious

questions were so closely identified that the prophet

could hardly be a religious teacher without being also a

political leader.

            Take Jeremiah as an illustration of this. In his time

Judah has become a tributary kingdom, subject to

Jeremiah as         Babylonia. The nobles are restive under the

a statesman        yoke. They are constantly plotting to throw

it off, are seeking to influence the king and the nation

in that direction, are advocating alliances with Egypt.

Jeremiah steadfastly opposes their policy. He con-

trives to exert an influence over both Jehoiakim and

Zedekiah, holding them back from revolt. He writes

letters to the exiles in Babylonia, advising them to be


              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,

and shows him distinguished favors when Jerusalem is

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

king's invitation to go to Babylonia and be there treated

with honor. No prophet denounced Babylonia more se-

verely than he. His position is that of all the prophets,

opposed to all entangling alliances with foreign powers.

He wanted nothing to do with Babylonia any more

than with Egypt. But when his king had sworn alle-

giance to Babylonia, Jeremiah held that the oath should

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

resistance.

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

is equally positive in denouncing intrigues with Assyria

or Egypt, and in advocating a policy of solidarity between

the northern and the southern kingdoms.


96              THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

            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

united Israel        Ephraim as well as for Judah, Isaiah dis-

tinctly recognizing " both the houses of Israel" (viii. 14);

and such northern prophets as Hosea and Elijah and

Elisha prophesied for Judah as well as for Israel (Am. i.

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-

giance as due to Jerusalem and the house of David,

as well as to their own kings. Those of both kingdoms

earnestly seek to keep alive the consciousness of Israel-

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

is a marriage song sung by a prophet of Judah on this occasion. On this

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

 

Bethel and Dan has been the state religion of northern

Israel. But there have been nonconformists all the

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

place of national sacrifice in Jerusalem. But this is

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."

Possibly the Tishbites, "the settlement men of Gilead "

(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 ISRAEL

 

            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

of the distinguished statesmen of Israel were prophets.

            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

were the leaders of reforms in Israel.

            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

Baal's prophets at Mount Carmel follows. I suppose that this and, later„

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

and organizers.

            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 ISRAEL

 

fluence; as we should now say, arrangements for Chris-

tian work.

            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

Israel.

            It is fashionable in some quarters to assert that they

did not become writers till the time of Arnos and

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.

            Whether Israel before Malachi had literary writers

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

from heaven?

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

writings.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

Crete a prophet.1 Most believers in a personal God

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

the prophets of Israel by applying the term "prophet "

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

culture and human character of England and of the

world.

            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 ISRAEL

 

            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

Israel were events which can be accounted for by known

natural laws. There are those who think that the cross-

ing of the Red Sea can be accounted for by an unusual

combination of wind and tide, occurring at a certain

juncture in the affairs of Israel; and that the rain of

fire that destroyed Sodom can be accounted for by the

sinking of a broken tract of ground into a deposit of

bituminous products; and that Israel's crossing the

Jordan dryshod can be accounted for by the- hypothesis

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

 

wonders done by Moses in Egypt, Elijah's raising from

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

of Syria (2 Ki. vi. 12).

            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

against Tyre are different from those against Damascus.

Those against each of these are different from those

against Jerusalem ; and similarly with Babylon and

Nineveh and other cities and countries. The strength

of the argument lies in the degree in which the differ-

ences in the fulfilments correspond with those in the

predictions.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

Israel, it is safe to enter a general denial.

            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

false.

            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.

theism of the       The religion of Israel is monotheism of a cer-

religion of           tain type, the monotheism of the worship of

Yahaweh            Yahaweh. Christianity and Mohammedanism, 

the two more bulky successors of the religion of Israel, preserve

this same type of monotheism. We are all worshippers

of Israel's God. This monotheism is the greatest factor

in all Israelitish or Christian or Moslem civilizations.

The great work of the prophets, the one essential work,


       THE FUNCTIONS OF A PROPHET              109

 

was the giving of this type of monotheism to Israel and

to mankind.

            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

Israel and to mankind.

 


 

 

 

                                    CHAPTER VI

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

of Elohim.

            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.

 

                                     110


                 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

familiar.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

Yahaweh: —

            "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.

7, 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 [13] ).

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

which they delivered Israel. When "the Spirit of

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

of Israel in the wilderness (Isa. lxiii. 10-11): —

            "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

them?"

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

message.

            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 ISRAEL

 

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

 

in other passages, considerable stress is laid on the

deceiving dreams of some of the prophets. Speaking

of " teraphim " and "diviners," the second                False

Zechariah says, "They have told false dreams"                    prophetic

(x. 2). Jeremiah has a good deal to say of               dreams

the false dreaming of the prophets (xxiii. 25, 27, 32,

xxvii. 9, xxix. 8).

 

            "The prophets . . . that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I

have dreamed, I have dreamed."

            "Who think to cause my people to forget my name by their

dreams which they tell."

            "That prophesy by lying dreams."

            "Hearken ye not to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to

your dreams."

            "Neither hearken ye to your dreams which ye cause to be

dreamed."

 

            There are about a dozen instances of significant

dreams in the Old Testament ; Joseph's dreams con-

cerning the sheaves, and concerning the                             Instances of

sun and moon and stars; Jacob's dreams                              significant

at Bethel and in Paddan-aram; Solomon's               dreams

dream; Daniel's dream, with the vision of the four

beasts; the dreams of the chief butler and the chief

baker and Pharaoh; those of Nebuchadnezzar; of

Abimelech king of Gerar; of Laban; of a Midianite

soldier in Gideon's time (Gen. xxxvii. 5-20, xxviii. 12,

xxxi. 10-11; I Ki. iii. 5, 15; Dan. vii. I; Gen. xl-xli;

Dan. ii, iv; Gen. xx. 3, 6, xxxi. 24; Jud. vii. 12-15). In

a majority of the instances the dreamers are heathen;

and in most of the instances where the dream is pro-

phetic, it does not loom up very large.

            Really the interpretation of dreams seems to be more

honorably presented as a prophetic function than the

dreaming of dreams. It is spoken of as especially dis-

tinguishing Daniel that he had "understanding in all


118             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

visions and dreams " (i. 17). His " excellent spirit "

manifested itself in the "interpreting of dreams" (v.

Prophets as    12), as well as in other ways. The inter-

interpreters    pretations of the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar

of dreams       and of Pharaoh by Daniel and Joseph are

certainly in the records on the ground of their being

notable achievements of men who had prophetic gifts.

            (b) The second mode of revelation to the prophets

is that by visions that are conceived of as presented

to the physical eye. Not necessarily visions that are

actually perceived, notice, by the physical sight, but

visions that are thought of as so perceived.l

            Instances of this mode of communication with Deity

are numerous in the Old Testament, and are familiar

Instances of        to all readers. A few, taken at random, are

picture-              Jeremiah's beholding the rod of almond, the

vision                seething pot, the baskets of figs (Jer. 11, 13,

xxiv); Zechariah's beholding the lampbowl and olive

trees, the flying roll, the woman in the ephah, the

four chariots (Zech. iv, v. 1-4, 5-11, vi. 1—8); Ezekiel's

beholding the four living creatures, and the hand with

the book-roll (Ezek. i, ii. 9, etc.); Yahaweh's causing

Amos to behold the locusts devouring the latter

growth, the fire devouring the great deep, the plumb-

line, the basket of summer fruit (vii. 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, viii.

1-3); his causing Elisha to behold the approaching

death of Benhadad and the accession of Hazael (2 Ki.

viii. 10-13); the appearing to Ezekiel of the semblance

 

            1 These are the instances in which prophetic vision is described in terms

of the qal, the hiphil, the hophal, or the nouns of the stem raah, as distin-

guished from the stem hhazah. See Chapter II. In the remainder of this

chapter we will translate the words of this stem by such English terms as

"behold," "appearance," "picture-vision," reserving the words "see" and

"vision" to be used in translating from hhazah. The niphal of raah will

be considered later, when we reach the subject of theophany.


               THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE                       119

of a throne over his cherubim, and of a hand under their

wings (x. 1, 8) ; and very many others.

            (c) The third mode of revelation to the prophets may,

in the lack of a better term, be said to be by visions of

insight. It is expressed in the Hebrew by the words of

the stem hhazah, when these are specifically used. It

would include all methods of appeal to the mind except

that by picture-vision.

            We have already seen (Chapter II) that the verb

hhazah, though it is in Aramaic the ordinary word for

physical seeing, is in the Hebrew mainly con-                   Hhazah

fined to the instances in which the seeing is                      versus

prophetic, and in other instances the restric-                     raah

tion of it to the idea of mental perception or thoughtful

seeing is persistent. The hhazah words are used as liter-

ary terms in the titles of the prophecies and elsewhere,

while the raah words are never so used. Even in the

Aramaizing Hebrew of the book of Daniel the difference

between the words of these two stems never quite fades

out, and elsewhere it is very distinct.

            The hhazah words sometimes denote a genus, under

which the raah words designate a species. Every raah

vision is a hhazah vision, but there may be hhazah visions

which are not raah visions.l  Again, the hhazah words

are sometimes applied to the whole of some transaction,

while the raah words are used to denote a picture-vision

 

            1 Speaking of his vision of the ram and the he-goat, Daniel says, "I

Daniel had beheld the vision" (viii. 15). What he had beheld was an

appearance presented to the eye, but it was also vision in the wider sense

of prophetic revelation, and the speaker here prefers the generic word to

the specific. In verse 16 the other term is used: "Make this man to un-

derstand the appearance." The phrase "whom I had beheld in the vision"

is used in ix. 21. Similarly it is said in Joel (ii. 28) that the young men

shall "behold visions." Amos is called a "seer" (vii. 12) in the midst of

the account of the series of objects which Yahaweh "caused him to behold."


120             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

which constituted a part of the transaction.1  These uses

of the words of the two stems explain the phenomena

which have sometimes been mistakenly regarded as cases

of interchange. Samuel and Zadok and Hanani are

doubtless called roim because they somehow came to be

thought of as receiving revelations in forms that appealed

to the senses. Gad and Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun

and Iddo and Jehu the son of Hanani are called hhozini

because they were believed to have insight into the will

of Deity, without emphasizing the form of the revelations

made through them.

            As the hhazah words may denote a genus under which

the raah words denote a species, so they may also denote'

Vision other        another species of the same genus; namely,

than that by        mental vision in distinction from the actual or

sense-images      apparent presentation of objects to the senses.

This is apparently the meaning in a large proportion of

the instances in which a prophetic writing is spoken of

as a vision (e.g. Isa. i. 1 ; Na. i. 1 ; Hab. ii. 2), and in

those in which the word of Yahaweh is said to come to

some one in a vision, or in which some other like expres-

sion is used (e.g. Gen. xv. 1-6; 2 Sam. vii. 17; Nu. xxiv.

4, 16; Isa. ii. I).

            Obviously it is supposable that the prophet might

receive his message through other avenues than his

picture-making faculty. Even if it were indispensable

that he be in a tranced or ecstatic condition, such a con-

dition might supposably act upon his memory, his pow-

ers of perception or reasoning, his association of ideas,

 

            1 In Dan. viii-x hhazon (viii. I, 2, 2, 13, 15a, 17, :z6b, ix. 21, 24, x. 14)

denotes either the whole of a transaction, or some part of it thought of

generically as divine revelation; while mar'eh and mar'ah denote specifi-

cally objects that are thought of as presented to the eye (viii. 15b, 16, 26a,

27, ix. 23, x. I, 6, 7, 7, 8, 16, 18).


              THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE             121

 

and not exclusively upon his imagination. Through

these other mental powers, without any intervention of

sense-perceived images, he might be made to know things

which he would not know in an ordinary state of mind.

But the records do not say that the prophet was always

in an ecstatic state when he received his message. In

by far the larger number of the instances there is no

mention of either dreams or apparitions or trances. It

is possible to think of most of the communications to the

prophets as reaching them through their aroused spiritual

insight, unaccompanied by the consciousness of mani-

festations appealing to the senses. The revelation may

have been the product of a sharpened intuition or a quick-

ened intelligence, brought to bear upon the problem of

the hour.

            These things are supposable. That they are also

matters of fact appear from the contents of the writ-

ings which have come down to us from the prophets

under the title of visions. In these writings the proph-

ets exhibit themselves as actively and consciously using

all the faculties which a human mind possesses. Evi-

dently they regarded themselves as guided by the Spirit

in making investigations, in remembering, in judging of

facts, in estimating persons, in making inductions and

deductions, in mental processes of all sorts. The records

specify dreams and appearance visions and other like

modes, but they do not represent the prophet as restricted

to these. The terms used have meanings wide enough

to include any supposable influence exerted by the divine

Spirit over the mind of the prophet. In many cases the

language of the scriptures will justify no narrower inter-

pretation than that Deity in some way made the prophet

understand his will.

            (d) The fourth mode of revelation to the prophets is


122           THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

by theophany. It is superfluous to say that the word

"theophany" is of Greek origin, and denotes an ap-

pearing of Deity in visible form.

            The Hebrew expression for this fact is the Niphal of

the verb raah, to see. It denotes the state of being

The Niphal         seen, or the act of becoming visible. It is

of raah              commonly translated by the English verb

"appear." Not all the instances in which it is used are:

cases of theophany. For example, Yahaweh is said to

have appeared to Solomon (I Ki. iii. 5) in a dream. But

the theophanic instances are easily distinguishable.

            The cases of theophany may be described as those in

1which we find Yahaweh appearing in human form and

conversing with the prophet, with or without additional

miraculous manifestations ; or Yahaweh uttering audible

words from the midst of miraculous manifestations.

            Instances of theophany are given in passages that are

those most familiar to us. Abraham is sitting at his tent

Yahaweh            in door, and suddenly becomes aware of three

human sem-        men standing near him. He talks with them,

blance               they eat with him; one of them promises to

Sarah a son; he accompanies them on their way; they

part, two of them going toward Sodom. The one who

remains with Abraham turns out to be Yahaweh, and he

and Abraham have a memorable interview. The other

two are the angels who rescue Lot when Sodom is de-

stroyed (Gen. xviii. 1-2, 9-10, 13, 17, 20-2I, 22, xix. I).

            This is, perhaps, the instance that is more explicit in

its details than any other on record. In some of the

Varying              instances there is a miraculous manifestation

forms of            in addition to the appearing in human form of

theophany         the person who utters the message. A good

example is that of Manoah and the Angel who talked

with him, and the miraculous burning of the food which


               THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE               123

 

he placed before the Angel (Jud. xiii. 3, 6, 16, 19, 20-

21, 22). In other cases, there is the miraculous mani-

festation and the uttering of audible words, without any

human form being visible; for example, the giving of

the ten words from Sinai, or the revelations from the

pillar of cloud or of fire over the tent of meeting (Ex.

xix–xx; Deut. v; Num. ix. 15-23). In some cases

there may be a doubt as to whether the narrative repre-

sents that a human form appeared ; for example, at the

burning bush, or at the sacrifice of Isaac (Ex. iii. 2–3;

Gen. xxii. 11-12, 14, 15-16).

            The personage who is described as " the Angel"

is prominent in most of the detailed instances of the-

ophany. His presence is explicitly mentioned,                   The Angel

I believe, in all the cases that have just been

cited. Scholars have given much attention to this per-

sonage, and he deserves much. He appears in the Old

Testament narrative, in nearly all its stages, not as some

angel or other, but as the Angel, a distinct, separate

being. In any particular case we are likely to find him

presenting himself as a man, afterward spoken of as

the Angel, and later in the narrative identified with

Yahaweh himself. We must not delay to discuss the

subject, but the Angel seems to be in some sense a

temporary incarnation of Yahaweh.

            From one point of view, theophany might be classed

as a species of picture-vision. It is like picture-vision

in that it presents Deity as assuming the                 Theophany

form of a visible person, or as speaking from        versus

the midst of visible manifestations. It is                 picture-vision

unlike picture-vision in that it is of the nature of a per-

sonal interview of a man with God, and not mainly of

the nature of an object lesson taught by emblems. Gen-

uine theophanies are regarded as something rare and


124           THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

precious, the highest form of divine communication with

men. The difference between Moses and the less gifted

prophets was that Yahaweh spoke with him in theophanic

"picture-vision," mouth to mouth, and not merely in

dreams or ordinary picture-vision (Num. xii. 6-8).1

            (e) Very noteworthy in the biblical accounts of the

prophets is the absence of the use of artificial parapher-

The absence       nalia or processes for exciting the prophetic

of artificial          mood. In one instance we are told that Elisha

excitation           required the presence of a minstrel as the con-

dition of his giving a message (2 Ki. iii. 15). This case

is the only one of its kind. If we regard it as an in-

stance in which external means were used to induce a

suitable frame of mind in a prophet desiring a revelation,

it is altogether exceptional.

            In this the scriptures are in contrast with what we

find elsewhere in all ages, in persons who profess to give

supernatural revelations. The shaman has his snakeskin

rattle, the conjurer has his strange-looking tools, the as-

trologer has his elaborate, scholarly-seeming apparatus;

and they use these in compelling the other world to dis-

close its secrets or to bring help. The prophets of

ancient Egypt had their magic formulas, the persons

in the Arabian Nights pronounce the ineffable Name;,

Prospero compels the spirits by spells and charms. The

Pythia at Delphi inhaled intoxicating vapor, the augurs

consulted the flight of birds or the entrails of sacrificial.

victims, Ezra in the legend drinks a potion to enable:

him to reproduce the inspired scriptures, the witches

 

            1 It is surprising that the identifying of theophany with what is above

described as mental vision has gained a good deal of currency, and along

with it a theory that mental vision is presented in the Old Testament as

the highest form of revelation. Linguistically, the descriptions of the-

ophany are affiliated with the derivatives of raah, and not of hhazah.


                THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE                 125

 

in Macbeth dance around the caldron, the modern spir-

itualists have their seances. In Odd Craft, the latest

volume of stories, the fortune-teller burns something in

a bowl, and he and the inquirers sit among the fumes.

Other characters in recent novels consult the unseen by

burning a hair, or by drawing blood, or by stirring the

grounds in a teacup. From the biblical narratives we

learn that processes of these various sorts were in exist-

ence throughout the times covered by Israelitish his-

tory.l  In view of all this, it is a thing very remarkable

that the prophets of Yahaweh are not represented as

resorting to means of artificial excitation in order to stir

up the spirit of revelation in them or for them. In this,

as in their being simply citizens with a message (Chapter

IV), they are unique among the prophets of the nations.

            II. As our second principal topic we take up certain

peculiarities which characterized the prophets in giv-

ing their messages to men. As we should expect, these

bear a certain correspondence to the modes in which

revelation came from God to them.

            I. They are noted, for example, for their very

abundant use of symbols. They delight in simple but

striking object lessons, in which physical              Prophetic

objects or personal acts are employed to                           object

represent truths. Ahijah rends the garment                         lessons

into twelve pieces and gives Jeroboam ten, in token that

Jeroboam shall reign over ten tribes (1 Ki. xi. 30-31).

Ezekiel inscribes one stick with the name Judah and

another with the name Joseph, and puts the two to-

gether, in token of the union of the exiles from the

 

            1 Instance the witch of Endor, the prophets of Baal cutting themselves

in their frantic efforts to obtain a revelation, and the derivations of the

many different words that are used in speaking of practitioners of magic

arts.


126              THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

northern and the southern kingdoms (xxxvii. 15-25).

Isaiah went naked and barefoot, to indicate the way

in which the Assyrian would lead Egypt and Ethiopia

into exile (xx). Jeremiah wore a bar of wood as an.

emblem of the subjugation of the nations to Nebuchad-

nezzar and when the false prophet Hananiah broke off

the bar, Jeremiah declared that Yahaweh would replace

it with a yoke of iron (Jer. xxvii, xxviii). Jeremiah

publicly broke the potter's vessel in the valley of the

son of Hinnom, to indicate Yahaweh's breaking of

Judah and Jerusalem (xix).   ,

            2. The teaching of the prophets by types should be

distinguished from their ordinary teaching by symbols.

The type is a higher form of symbolism, in which actual

persons or facts or events are used in setting forth

greater events or spiritual truths.

            The older treatments of prophecy make much of the

doctrine of types. Extensive works have been written

A type               on Typology, and many of them. In some

defined              the doctrine has been mistakenly treated, but

it is nevertheless important. In actual use the word

"type" is applied to emblems or figures of speech of

all kinds, but it is better so to define it as to make it

distinctive. Perhaps the best definition for the purpose

is that which prevails in the sciences. A type is —

 

"one of a class or group of objects that embodies the characteristics

of the group or class"; or "the ideal representation combining es-

sential characteristics, as of a species, genus, or family; an organism

exhibiting the essential characteristics of its group " (Standard

Dictionary).

 

Using this definition in connection with the phenomena

of prophecy, the most important form of type is that

in which a historical fact or person or event is used as

an example foreshadowing some other fact or event or


            THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE                   127

 

person. It is best to distinguish a type from all objects

that are not thought of as historical, and from historical

events that are used merely for purposes of illustration.

A type is an emblem of a peculiar kind, a fact or a

person embodying a truth, and used as a foreshadowing

example of a greater manifestation of that truth.

            The prophetic typology is mainly concerned with the

messianic doctrine taught by the prophets, and will

come before us again when we reach that subject. For

the present it is sufficient to add that it is the characters

and experiences and works of the prophets that are

typical, rather than their utterances. They themselves

claim to be a succession of types. The institutions of

Israel as moulded by the prophets are typical of some-

thing higher to be unfolded in the future. Under their

guidance much of the history has a typical value.

            3. In considering the modes of utterance by the

prophets, we cannot wholly ignore the questions that

have been so often raised concerning a double sense

and a manifold fulfilment.

            (a) It is not to be admitted that any of the utter-

ances of the true prophets of Yahaweh have           Deceitfully

a double sense, meaning thereby a deceitfully       equivocal

equivocal sense. The Greek oracle to Pyrrhus       meanings

on his way to invade Italy is said to have been: —

                                    "I say that Rome

                        Pyrrhus shall overcome."

 

When Pyrrhus failed to overcome Rome, and com-

plained that the oracle had deceived him, he was told

that the oracle was not to blame for his mistaken pars-

ing. In I Ki. xxii. 12 the false prophets say: —

 

            "Go thou up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, and Yahaweh will

give it into the hand of the king."


128         THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

They give the same equivocal message variantly in

verse 6, and Micaiah repeats it ironically in verse 15.

But among the recognized prophets of Yahaweh serious

instances of this kind are conspicuous by their absence.

            Instances of alleged double sense of a different kind

may be exemplified by the citation of Jeremiah (xxxi. 15)

in Matthew (ii. 18) concerning Rachel weeping for her

children. We read in Genesis that Rachel was buried

in Ramah on the way from Bethel to Ephrath, known

later as Bethlehem (Gen. xxxv. 19-20, xlviii. 7; cf:

I Sam. x. 2). Jeremiah in a fine burst of figurative

language represents Rachel in her grave as weeping

over her children, who have vanished by slaughter and

captivity from the depopulated region. Matthew quotes

the language, with the formula: "Then was fulfilled

that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet," and

applies it to the slaughter of the infants by Herod.

There are those who insist that Matthew says that the

words of Jeremiah were a prediction of the slaughter

by Herod, and were in that sense fulfilled. It would

seem to follow that Jeremiah had two meanings in mind

when he spoke the words, one meaning for his own

time and another for the time of Jesus. Several of the

places where the New Testament speaks of the words

of a prophet as having been fulfilled are regarded as in-

stances of this kind of alleged double sense. But it is

not necessary to think that Matthew regarded the words

of Jeremiah as a prediction of the cruelty of Herocl.

Probably he meant no more than that the words of the

prophet are capable of being used as a vivid descrip-

tion of the affair under Herod. Nothing is more com-

mon than to apply familiar old diction to new situations.

With this interpretation of instances of this sort every

sign of a double sense vanishes.


              THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE             129

 

            (b) The question of manifold fulfilment is entirely

different from that of an equivocal sense, and should be

treated accordingly.

            On this point the one most important consideration is

that the idea of manifold fulfilment is not an afterthought,

devised for the explaining of difficulties, but                    Manifold ful-

is a recognition of an essential part of the              filment not

structure of biblical prophecy. The predic-                        an afterthought

tions found in the extant works of the prophets are

almost exclusively either promises or threats. And

they are not sporadic, but parts of a connected doctrine

concerning the workings of a Deity whose plans are rep-

resented as extending through the ages. That his plans

extend through the ages is a point much insisted upon.

            In the very nature of things the execution of a threat

may be accomplished in parts, and at different times.

In the nature of things a promise, operative without

limit of time, may begin to be fulfilled at once, and may

also continue being fulfilled through future period after

period. In the time of our civil war a soldier's life was

saved by a comrade. He promised that he would

always show himself grateful. After the war he came

to possess wealth and influence. He kept his promise

when his comrade was sick, by seeing that he was taken

to a hospital and cared for. He kept it later by paying

the expenses of his comrade's son through college.

Year by year he insists upon a visit from his comrade

and his comrade's family, and the two give themselves

up to the good fellowship of the occasion. He has just

presented his comrade's granddaughter with a handsome

marriage portion. The prediction that he made when

he promised to be grateful has naturally this manifold

fulfilment. So a prediction that is in the form of a

promise of never ending benefit from Deity has neces-


130            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

sarily a manifold fulfilment. Most of the prophetic

predictions are of this type. It is very clear that such

a prophecy may have manifold application, manifold

fulfilment, without having a double sense.

            This matter is principally important in connection

with the messianic forecast found in the prophets, and

it will be abundantly illustrated when we reach that part

of our subject. For the present we will only illustrate

the principle in hand by barely mentioning a few of the

different ways in which scholars have stated it.

            Writers have applied the term "generic prophecy" in

more ways than one. According to one idea a generic

Generic              prediction is one which regards an event as

prophecy           occurring in a series of parts, separated by

intervals, and expresses itself in language that may

apply indifferently to the nearest part, or to the remoter

parts, or to the whole—in other words, a prediction

which, in applying to the whole of a complex event,

also applies to some of the parts. A certain law of

perspective has played a prominent pail: in this way of

presenting the matter. It is as when a person looks

out over a wide view made up of several parallel ranges

of hills. The more distant ranges are much the grander;

though to his eye the nearer look the larger, and the

farther are blended with the nearer. Study, for example,

the words of Jesus concerning the destruction of Jerusa-

lem and his coming and the end of the age (Mat. xxiv-

xxv).

            Others speak of the successive or the progressive

fulfilment of a prediction. An event is foretold which

Successive or      is to be brought about through previous

progressive        events that in some particulars resemble it.

fulfilment            The prediction is to be thought of as fulfilled,

though inadequately, in the first event of the series, and


             THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE                  131

 

as more or less adequately fulfilled in each succeeding

event, but as completely fulfilled only in the final event

in the series. Another form of statement is that only

the final event is foretold, but that this incidentally

includes the foretelling of some of the means by which

it is accomplished, that is, of some of the intervening

events that lead up to it.

With some a favorite way of presenting the case is to

say that types and antitypes may exist in a series, one

event being typical of a second, the second                        Series of

being typical of a third, the third of a                                  types and

fourth, and so on. In such a case it is evi-               antitypes

dent that a prediction or other prophecy, applying to the

first event in the series, may through it apply to the sec-

ond, and so to each succeeding event till the antitype

is reached. In foretelling parts of such a series the

remaining parts are foretold.

            When the point of a prophecy consists in its enunciat-

ing the principles on which God acts in dealing with

individuals or communities, then the prophecy                  The

may of course be so far forth applied to every                   principles

instance that comes wholly or partly under                        God's administration

these principles. Especially is it true that if the

prophets believed that Deity had some central plan in

view in his management of the world, their teachings

concerning that plan and its details would be thereby

affected. Many of their statements would apply equally

to the whole plan or to certain of its details. Some of

their statements would apply equally to details which

were in themselves very unlike. I have stated this

hypothetically; but nothing is more certain than that

the prophets had a theory of this kind, and that their

utterances were greatly affected thereby.

            4. In treating of the modes of utterance of the


132             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

prophets, we have considered mainly the points which

seem most to call for remark. But there is some danger

Masters of          that in doing this we may mistake exceptional

the art of            things for the things that are essential. Realty

persuasive          the greatest quality in the modes of utterance

speech               of the prophets is that they were masters of the

art of persuasive speech. They were enabled to utter moral

and religious truth so directly and incisively that the

truth they uttered has lived ever since.


 

 

 

                                   CHAPTER VII

 

THE PROPHET AS A GIVER OF TORAH AND WRITER OF

                                     SCRIPTURE

 

            AT the close of the fifth chapter our attention was

called to the fact that the one great function of the

prophets was the transmitting of monotheism in its

Israelitish type to Israel, to mankind, and to future

ages. The monotheism they transmitted may be looked

at with respect to its contents or with respect to its form.

As to its contents, the chief thing in it is its messianic

doctrine. In its form it is an alleged revelation or series

of revelations from God, commonly described by the

prophets themselves as "law," torah. Torah, when

written, becomes sacred scripture.

            The discussion of the distinctive contents of the

monotheism of this type, namely, its doctrine of the

Messiah, will occupy the second part of this volume;

the discussion of its form will occupy the present chap-

ter. Nothing can be more important in this investiga-

tion than to get a clear idea of the relations of the

prophets to torah, that is, directly or indirectly, to the

written scripture.

            Most students of the Bible, even if they do not

understand Hebrew, are familiar with this word torah,

commonly translated "law." From the careless use

of it arise many errors. When one gets so far along

as to know that the Old Testament consists of the Law

and the Prophets and the Hagiographa, he is liable

 

                                      133


134           THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

to assume that "law" and "pentateuch" are converti-

ble terms. Even scholarly men have made this assump-

tion, and with disastrous results. For this reason we

need carefully to consider the term torah and its equiva-

lents. We will study it, first, as used in writings later

than the Old Testament; second, as used in the Old

Testament; third, as indicating the character of the

Old Testament.

            I. First, the term is not restricted, in the literature

that has been written since the Old Testament, to the

denoting of the pentateuch. In particular, it is also

employed to denote the entire bible, or to denote the

Old Testament.

            I. Certainly, we ourselves use the term "law" in

this extended sense. If you heard some one speak of

the written law of God, you might understand him to

mean the pentateuch, but you would be more likely

to understand him to mean the bible.

            2. The same usage prevails among the Jewish scholars

of past centuries. For example, one finds such a passage

as the following: —

 

            "This whole work is called Mikra, that is, Scripture or Bible.

It is also often called Law, as R. Bechai teaches in Chadh Hake-

                        mach: . . . 'The Law is divided into three parts„

Rabbinical          into the Law, the Prophets and the Hagiographa'''

usage                (Ugolino, Vol. I, Col. 226).

 

As another instance, Lightfoot (Pitman's ed., 1823,

Vol. XII, p. 546) quotes from Bab. Sanhedr., fol. 91, 2,

a discussion in which three Old Testament passages are

cited on the question: "Whence is the resurrection of

the dead proved out of the law?" The passages are

Josh. viii. 30; Ps. lxxxiv. 4; Isa. lii. 8. It is evident

that the word "law" in this passage denotes the Old

Testament, and not the pentateuch only.


             THE PROPHET AND THE LAW             135

 

            These instances are relatively late. It is alleged that

no such usage prevailed in the early Christian centuries,

but this is a mistake. In the celebrated four-           Usage in

teenth chapter of 2 Esdras, for example, the          2 Esdras and

things "which were written in thy law" in-   Josephus

elude, apparently, "the works that shall begin," and

"all that hath taken place in the world since the begin-

ning" (vv. 20-22), that is, the contents of the predictive

and the historical parts of the Old Testament. Ezra is

represented as saying:  "The world therefore lieth in

darkness . . . since thy law is burnt," and as asking

for the gift of the Holy Spirit that he may write the

things that had formerly been written in the law. Re-

ceiving the inspiration he sought, he writes, according

to the most probable text, ninety-four books, the first

twenty-four of which he is to publish openly (vv. 44-

46). It is clear that these twenty-four books were, in

the mind of the author of the story, the "law" of which

he had been speaking, and it is equally clear that by

them he intended the Old Testament.1

            Josephus, like the author of 2 Esdras, wrote not far

from the close of the first century A.D., a little later

than the writers of the New Testament. In the third

section of the Preface to his Antiquities he says, speak-

ing of King Ptolemy and the Septuagint translation of

the Old Testament: —

 

            "For he did not obtain all the record, for those who were sent

to Alexandria as interpreters gave him; only the books of the law.

But there is a vast number of other matters in the sacred literature."2

 

            1 If the expression "a law of life" in verse 30 refers especially to the

pentateuch, that simply shows that this author, like others, used the term

"law" in both senses. It should be noticed that the point here made de-

pends solely on the author's use of language, and not at all on the truthful-

ness of his statements of fact.

            2 This translation is based on those of Whiston and Shilletto, but is


136             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

Josephus here distinguishes between "the books of the

law "on the one hand and " the record," "the sacred.

literature," on the other. It is commonly assumed that:

by the first of these terms he means the pentateuch,

and by the other two the rest of the Old Testament.

But it is at least as plausible to say that by the first he

means the Old Testament, and that in the other two he

includes the body of secondary sacred literature which

he uses so freely in the work that follows. The con-

text proves that this latter statement is certainly the

correct one. By "the books of the law" Josephus here

means the aggregate of the Hebrew Old Testament

writings. These had been for several generations''

accessible to Greeks, in the Septuagint translation.

Josephus now proposes to render accessible a portion

of the contents of the secondary sacred writings.

            3. Not to consider other uses of the term "law" in

the New Testament, its writers sometimes designate the

New Testa-         pentateuch as the law, and sometimes include

ment usage         under this designation the whole body of the

"scriptures" to which they are in the habit of referring.

It is impossible to be sure which of these two meanings

of the term was the more familiar to their minds.

            A marked instance of the second of these two mean-

ings is that in which Jesus asks the question: "Is it

not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods?"1 Here

the reference is not to a passage in the books of Moses,

 

changed to avoid their confusing of the literary terms used by Josephus.

The plural ypaµµara, letters, is rendered "literature," to distinguish it alike

from ypa i7, scripture, and OtfX1a, books.

            1 " Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are

gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the

scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him whom the Father sanctified

and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son

of God?" (Jn. x. 34).


             THE PROPHET AND THE LAW               137

 

but to one of the psalms (lxxxii. 6). Jesus speaks of

this phrase from the psalm as "written in your law,"

and immediately afterward calls it "scripture." You

can only explain his use of words by saying that he and

those who heard him were alike in the habit of some-

times speaking of the whole body of the scriptures as

"the law." Similarly Jesus speaks of the sentence,

"They hated me without a cause" (Ps. xxxv. 19 or

lxix. 4), as "written in their law" (Jn. xv. 25). A

more general instance is the following (Jn. xii. 34): —

 

            "The multitude therefore answered him, We have heard out

of the law that the Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest

thou, The Son of man must be lifted up?"

 

Here the reference may be to any one of several specific

passages, or it may be to the general spirit of the mes-

sianic passages; but in either case it is to the Old

Testament outside the Mosaic books.

            John is not the only New Testament writer who em-

ploys language in this way. Paul says to the Corin-

thians (I Cor. xiv. 21):

 

            "In the law it is written, By men of strange tongues and by

the lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even

thus will they hear me, saith the Lord."

 

This citation is from Isaiah (xxviii. 11, 12). Add to these

instances the series of citations in Rom. iii. 10–19 :

            "As it is written,

            There is none righteous, no, not one;

            There is none that understandeth,

            There is none that seeketh after God;

            They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofit-

                        able;

            There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one :

            Their throat is an open sepulchre;

            With their tongues they have used deceit:

            The poison of asps is under their lips :


138         THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

            Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

            Their feet are swift to shed blood;

            Destruction and misery are in their ways;

            And the way of peace have they not known:

            There is no fear of God before their eyes.

            Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh

to them that are under the law."

 

Here the marginal references are to the Psalms, Jere-

miah, the Proverbs, and Isaiah. None of the sentences

are from the pentateuch. Yet they are quoted as parts

of what the law says to them that are under the law;

and they are introduced by the formula, "It is written."

No one can make the term "law" in this passage other

than synonymous with the term "scripture."

            These instances are conclusive to the effect that in

the time of Jesus there was a distinct usage under which

the whole body of the Old Testament scriptures was

familiarly called "the law." And inasmuch as what-

ever is in the pentateuch is also in the Old Testament,

these authors may sometimes have had the whole Old

Testament in mind even when they cite the pentateuch.

It follows that we cannot be certain which of the two

meanings was the more prevalent.

            4. Correct interpretation finds the same usage in

the earlier extrabiblical literature.   For example, the

Usages of           twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Ec-

Ecclesiasti-         clesiasticus, written either about 200 B.C. or

cus, Baruch,       about 300 B.C., is a part of a continuous

etc.                   series of citations, mostly from Job, Proverbs, and the

scriptural books of that class, with enlargements taken

in part from the pentateuch. This is followed by the

affirmation: —

 

            1 There is a less distinct instance in Mt. xxii. 36, 40, where the question

is asked concerning the law, but answered concerning "the whole law, and

the prophets."


                THE PROPHET AND THE LAW                  139

 

            "All these are the book of the covenant of the most high God,

            The law which Moses commanded us

            As an heritage unto the congregations of Jacob" (ver. 23).

 

Apparently this author thinks of Moses as only the be-

ginner of "the law which Moses commanded us," and

thinks of that law as including the wisdom books of the

Old Testament, as well as the pentateuch.

            Precisely similar is the passage in the book of Baruch

(iv. 1), where, alter many lines made up from the books

of Moses and from Proverbs and Job, the writer says : —

 

            "This is the book of the commandments of God,

            And the law that endureth forever."

 

II. This glance at the later usage has prepared us for

studying the term as it appears in the Hebrew of the

Old Testament.

            1. First, we look at its derivation.

            The noun torah and its cognate verb horah are causa-

tives from yarah, which denotes the act of shooting an

arrow or hurling a javelin. The two have the           Derived from

same use, and should be studied together, the        yarah, "to

mechanical translation of the verb being " to          shoot

give torah." The causative stem of yarah sometimes

denotes shooting, like the simple stem. Its derivative

yoreh (Deut. xi. 14 Jer. v. 24) is translated "former

rain." The "arrows of the rain" afford a not unfamil-

iar figure of speech. But the causative verb of the stem

nearly always, and the noun torah always, are used in

the secondary sense in which the noun is translated

"law" and the verb is translated "teach."1

 

            1 The lexicons say that this secondary meaning comes through the no-

tion of shooting out the hand by way of monitory gesture. Possibly a

better conjecture is that the term is of military origin. An officer causes

his men to shoot, when he gives the order for shooting. From such a be-

ginning the noun might naturally come to denote an order given by com-


140            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

            The usage of the word is abundant for the purpose of

ascertaining its meaning. The noun occurs more than

two hundred times, and the verb more than sixty times,

in the different parts of the Old Testament.

            2. Very important to the ascertaining of the significa-

tion of these words is the fact that the law or teaching

they denote is divine. To this there are only a very

few exceptions in the case of the verb, and probably

none in the case of the noun.

            In a few instances, as we have seen, horah retains the

meaning "to shoot." Once it is used of Judah going

Horan                in advance of his father to Goshen, "to give

commonly          torah," that is, to give orders (Gen. xlvi. 28).

describes           In Proverbs (vi. 13) it is said concerning the

divine law           "man of iniquity":--

or teaching

            "He winketh with his eyes, he talketh with his feet,

            He giveth torah with his fingers."

 

But in most of the instances, the directions or teachings

denoted by this verb are either given directly by Deity,

or are given by one who speaks in the name of Deity.1

 

petent authority. This explanation, as we shall find, agrees with the usage

of the word. In military usage, the " orders" given in a camp are some-

times of the nature of information rather than command, though the infor-

mation so given is official and authoritative. If we could keep this in mind,

we might translate horah by the English phrase "give orders," and torah

by "an order" or "orders."

            1 In a few instances the subject of the verb is a false god, or simply some

god or other. In Habakkuk the men are scathed who appeal to a molten

image to give lying torah, or who look to a dumb stone to give torah

(I-lab. ii. 18, 19). In Isaiah (xxviii. 26) the husbandman's God is said to

give him torah.

            In perhaps one-third of the existing instances Elohim or Yahaweh is

directly the subject. For example, Yahaweh gave Moses and Aaron torah

as to what they should say and do before Pharaoh (Ex. iv. 12, 15). He

gave Moses torah concerning a tree for healing the bitter fountain (Ex.

xv. 25). He promised the tables of stone and the torah and the com-


                THE PROPHET AND THE LAW            141

 

            So much for the verb. So generally does it denote

requirement or teaching that is thought of as coming

from Deity, that this is presumptively its               Torah means

meaning in all cases except where the context       divine law or

clearly shows the contrary. And if this is                teaching

true of the verb, it is more decidedly true of the noun.

There are probably no exceptions to the rule that the

Old Testament men think of torah as of divine origin.

If there are any exceptions, they are seven or eight of

the thirteen instances in which the word is used in the

book of Proverbs.1 There are other Hebrew words

 

mandments, "to give them torah," or, "to give them as torah" (Ex. xxiv.

12). He is asked to give Israel torah concerning "the good way" (i Ki.

viii. 36). He is asked to give the Psalmist torah concerning "his way,"

"the way of his statutes" (Pss. xxvii. lxxxvi. 11, cxix. 33). He gives

different persons torah "in the way," "in that way thou shalt go," "in a

way that he shall choose" (Pss. xxv. 8, 12, xxxii. 8). He gives the nations

torah "out of his ways" (Mic. iv. 2; Isa. ii. 3). He gives Israel torah

"unto the good way" (2 Chron. vi. 27). He gives torah (Ps. cxix. 102).

Deity gives torah (Job xxxiv. 32, xxxvi. 22).

            The most prominent use is that in which a prophet or a priest gives

torah as the representative of Deity. Instances are needless, though many

are given in the course of this chapter. In other instances the subject of

the verb is indefinite, or is some person or thing, but the teaching given

concerns divine matters, and has been received from Deity. Bezalel is to

give torah concerning the tabernacle work (Ex. xxxv. 34). One of the

toroth in Leviticus (xiv. 57) is for the purpose of giving torah concern-

ing the clean and the unclean. In the forty-fifth Psalm (4) the king's

right hand gives him torah in " terrible things." In various places in the

Wisdom books, the fathers or the beasts or the earth or " my father" or

Job's friends are said to give torah. In some of these places it is' clear that

the speaker has a divine revelation in mind, and in none of them is it clear

that he has not.

            1 And these, although the revised versions annotate them with the alter-

native "or teaching," are not real exceptions. There is nothing to prevent

the phrase "the law of thy mother" (Prov. i. 8, vi. 20) from meaning Ya-

haweh's law as taught thee by thy mother. Similar statements might be

made concerning the phrases " my law" (iii. I, iv. 2, vii. 2), " their law "

(vi. 23, if one accepts the emendation), "a wise man's law" (xiii. 14), "a

 


142             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

which apply equally to human or divine laws or state-

ments ; but torah, unless in these passages, is always

divine. Elsewhere, at least, the usage is uniform.

            3. Another point follows from this ; or it might be

independently made out by reexamining the instances :

torah always denotes authoritative command or informa-

tion. The idea of authority is inseparable alike from

the noun and from the verb.

            In the English versions the verb is commonly trans-

lated "teach." In the revised versions the noun is

Always au-         sometimes annotated with; the phrase "or

thoritative          teaching." Some authors tell us that the

teaching             noun denotes instruction, and they draw im-

portant inferences from this weakened meaning of it.

This is commendable so far forth as it is an attempt to

disentangle the Old Testament term from misleading

associations with the English word " law," or its equiva-

lents in other languages. But we must limit the attempt

carefully, or, in rescuing the word from uncongenial

company, we shall lead it into company that is still less

congenial. Torah and horah are never used of teach-

ing or instruction merely in the sense of giving informa-

tion. Always they denote authoritative teaching. With

the few exceptions already noted, they denote teaching

that is regarded as divinely authoritative. Not that

they always express commands; the thing expressed by

them may be information, and not command; but it is

information that is thought of as authoritative, and,

 

law of loving kindness " (xxxi. 26). It is easy to understand these to mean

simply thy mother's teachings, my teachings, the teachings of thy parents,

teachings of a wise man, teachings concerning loving kindness; but it is

quite as easy to understand them to mean God's revealed will as made known

to thee by thy mother, by me, by thy parents, by a wise man, by the virtu-

ous woman." Either we must thus interpret these phrases, following the

use of the word elsewhere, or we must regard them as a group of exceptions.

 


               THE PROPHET AND THE LAW           143

 

ordinarily, as of divine authority.1 In fine, the idea

they express is not far different from our current idea

of divine revelation, including God's commands, but

including also his promises and threats, and such

information or such inspiring truths as he may have

communicated to men.

            4. Another point in the usage concerns the relation

of torah respectively to the prophets and the priests.

            Since these were thought of as in a special sense the

representatives of Deity, we should expect that they

would be particularly concerned with torah. This ex-

pectation is met in the record. It represents the proph-

ets as the medium through whom torah is given from

Deity; the priests as the official custodians and admin-

istrators of torah; and both as the expounders and

interpreters of torah.

            (a) The prophet is the person through whom Yahaweh

reveals his torah.

            There are general statements to this effect; for

example, the following from Daniel:—                  General

                                                                                    statements

            “His toroth which he gave before us by the hand of

his servants the prophets " (ix. io).

 

            1 The English word "law" has connotations different from those of

torah, but it is relatively easy to set these aside so that they will not mis-

lead us; much easier than in the case of the other English words that have

been suggested. But "law" in English has no cognate by which to

translate the verb horah. Such phrases as "give law," "lay down the

law," have some good points, but are impracticable.

            When a government puts an officer in charge of an expedition, it gives

him " instructions," often written instructions, sometimes secret instructions

either oral or written, the instructions including information as well as

commands. If we could confine our English words "instruct" and "in-

struction" to this meaning, they would fairly translate horah and torah.

But this we cannot do. Similar statements might be made concerning the

English terms "orders," "give orders," and "direct," "directions," "give

directions." For the purposes of this chapter we may transfer the words

 


144              THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

Or this, from the record of the downfall of Samaria: —

 

            "And Yahaweh testified with Israel and with Judah by the hand

of every prophet of his, every seer, saying, Turn from your evil ways

and keep my commandments, my statutes, according to all the torah

which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent unto you by the

hand of my servants the prophets" (2 Ki. xvii. 13).

 

Or this from Jeremiah: —

            "Thus saith Yahaweh, If ye will not hearken unto me, to walk in

'my torah which I have given before you, to hearken unto the words

of my servants the prophets whom I send unto you" (xxvi. 4-5).

 

            General statements like these are frequent. They

are supported by particular instances in abundance.

Particular       It was through Nathan the prophet that " the

instances        torah of mankind "was announced to David

(2 Sam. vii. 19). Sealed written torah was given

through Isaiah the prophet (viii. 16, 20). The various

toroth of the pentateuch are represented to have been

given by Moses the man of God, the greatest of the

prophets.

            Other passages teach the same by suggestion. In

Nehemiah's time confession was made that Israel had

"cast thy torah behind their back, and murdered thy

prophets" (Neb. ix. 26), suggesting that the prophets

were the givers of the torah. The writer of Lamenta-

tions says: —

 

            "Her king and her captains are among the nations; there is no

torah; also her prophets have not found vision from Yahaweh"

(ii. 9).

 

And in Isaiah we read of —

           

"lying sons, sons that are not willing to hear the torah of Yaha-

weh; who say to the seers, Ye shall not see ; and to them that have

visions, Ye shall not for us have visions of things that are correct"

(xxx.9—II).

rather than translate them; but perhaps there 's no translation that will be

correct without careful definition.


               THE PROPHET AND THE LAW             145

 

            It would be easy to multiply instances in which it is

thus said or implied that the prophet is the man through

whom Deity reveals his torah to men, but              The act

we will only add a few in which the verb is                         denoted by

used, not the noun. Manoah desired that                             horah is prophetic          

the Angel, whom he supposed to be a "man of God,"

might be sent again to give torah in regard to the son

that was to be born (Jud. xiii. 8). That is to say, he

regarded the giving of torah as the function of a man

of God. Isaiah says that the prophet who gives false

torah is the tail in Judah (ix. 15). Samuel the prophet

promised not to cease giving Israel torah, notwithstand-

ing they had made a king (I Sam. xii. 23). The "teach-

ers" — givers of torah mentioned twice in Isa. xxx. 20

are probably prophets).

            (b) The priests are the guardians of the torah, but

are not its revealing agents.

            They are as prominently mentioned in connection

with torah as are the prophets, but their functions are

different.  In conjunction with the elders                            The priests'

and with the judges or kings, they are the               functions

custodians and administrators of the torah,                       with torah

but they are not law-bringers, like the prophets. The

conception is that as the successive parts of the torah

were brought from Deity by men who had prophetic

gifts, these toroth were placed in the hands of the

priests for use.

            What the priests had to do with torah in general is

fairly represented by what they had to do with the so-

called book of the torah. The record is that this was

written by the prophet Moses, and put into the keeping

 

            1 When Job (xxvii. 11) proposes to give his friends torah "at the hand

of God," we probably ought to understand him as claiming prophetic gifts.

Those whom the outcast (Prov. v. 13 RV) calls "my teachers" may have

been prophets. There is nothing to indicate that they were not.

 


146              THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

of the priests and elders. They were to guard it safe,

and once in seven years were to teach it by public read-

ing (Deut. xxxi. 9-13). They were t have charge of

the torah in the place which Yahawe should choose,

and were to administer it in cases of a peal. The king

was to have a copy of the torah made from the one that

was before "the priests the Levites" Deut. xvii. 8-12,

18). We. are told that Jehoshaphat had priests who

went through the land on a mission o instruction and

reform, carrying with them "the boor of the torah of

Yahaweh" (2 Chron. xvii. 9). The prophet Haggai

sends men to the priests to ask questions as to a point

in the ceremonial law (ii. 11, 12, 13).

            In these passages the noun is used, some of them

using the verb also ; the following ay indicate the

usage of the verb when priests are in question. The

priests are to "teach" the people, give the people

torah, concerning leprosy (Deut. xxiv. 8). That is, they

are to make known and enforce the la on this subject,

as it has been committed to them. Aaron and his

sons are to teach the sons of Israel, to give the sons of

Israel torah, all the statutes which Go. gave by Moses

(Lev. x. i I). Here their torah is the statutes which

have already been given through the prophet noses.

Ezekiel says of the priests (xliv. 23):

 

"And they shall give torah to my people between holy and profane,

And between clean and unclean they shall give knowledge to them."

 

We are told that the king of Assyria sent the Israelite

priest to the foreign populations which he had placed

in Samaria, —

 

"that he might give them torah, the usages of the god of the land,

. . . how they might fear Yahaweh" (2 Ki. xvi . 27-28).1

 

            1 Study also the following additional passages. In Asa's time Israel is

said to have long been "without a torah-giving priest, and without torah"


            THE PROPHET AND THE LAW            147

 

            (c) The prophets and the priests were alike the ex-

pounders and the interpreters of the torah, but with

a difference.

            Some scholars are accustomed to speak of a priestly

torah and a prophetic torah, as if the two differed in

their contents. There is no ground for this.                        No separate

There may be passages that are capable of              priestly torah

being understood in this way, but there are none that

necessarily give this meaning, and none that with any

strong probability imply it. The representation is rather

that the prophets and the priests had a common body of

torah, to which they stood in differing relations. They

were both teachers of torah, but the prophet was, in ad-

dition, the revealing agent through whom the torah was

given.

            We have examined a good many passages in which

this is explicitly said, and others in which it is implied.

 

(2 Chron. xv. 3). Jeremiah calls the priests "the handlers of the torah"

(ii. 8), and censures his opponents for saying that "torah shall not perish

from priest" (xviii. i8). Zephaniah complains that "her priests have

profaned sanctuary, have done violence to torah" (iii. 4). In the "Bless-

ing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed Israel," the function of Levi

is thus stated: —

            "They shall give as torah thy judgments to Jacob,

               and thy torah to Israel" (Deut. xxxiii. 1o).

Micah makes it a matter of rebuke that "her priests give torah for hire"

(iii. 11). The relations of the priests to the law are magnified in the sec-

ond chapter of Malachi: —

            "A true torah was in his mouth" (6).

            For a priest's lips keep knowledge,

                        and torah they seek at his mouth,

                        because he is the angel of Yahaweh of hosts.

            While ye, ye have removed from the way,

                        ye have caused many to stumble in the torah,

                        ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi,

                        saith Yahaweh of hosts" (7-8).

            "And ye are lifting up faces in the torah" (9).

 


148          THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

The priest does not, like the prophet, receive torah by

direct revelation from Deity ; but he as charge of torah

which has already been revealed, to administer and in-

terpret it. The only way in which he gives additional

torah is by interpreting that already given, answering

questions concerning it, making decisions upon it, estab-

lishing precedents and usages from it. Functions of this

sort belonged to both prophets and priests, and rendered

them both, in a sense, sources of torah. But in the

prophet's gift of revelation the priest, as such, had no

share. Of course both functions might be combined in

one person, as in Jehoiada the prophet-priest, the torah-

teacher of King Joash (2 Ki. xii. 2).1

            5. Having in mind this ''conception of torah as a body

of divine revelation given through the prophets, and

administered and expounded by there and the priests,

we are ready to take up another point,— the different

forms which torah assumed, as indicated by the variant

uses of the word.

            (a) Torah was sometimes oral and sometimes written.

To prove that the prophets gave torah orally, or that

they and the priests gave oral interpretations, and oral

decisions on points that arose, would be a work of super-

erogation. It is equally needless to prove the existence

of written torah. But we have to note that at this point

 

            1 Some one may raise the objection that the respective relations of the

priests and the prophets to the law probably differed in different periods

of the history. The reply is that the passages that have been cited cover

all the periods. If they tell the truth, that settles the question, no matter

when or by whom they were written. And even critics who dispute their

truth will nevertheless concede that they present correctly the situation

that existed in the later times when these critics allege that they were

written, and that their writers believed that the same situation existed in

the earlier times. It would not be easy to find sufficient reason for denying

that these writers were correct in their opinion.  Reasons for affirming that

they were correct will appear as we proceed with our investigation.


             THE PROPHET AND THE LAW                149

 

the element of time becomes more important than it has

been in the matters thus far discussed.

            Written torah began at an early date. In Isaiah we

have an account of torah written and sealed                       Early written

(viii. 16, 20). Hosea, in a passage that has              torah

been much discussed, says of Ephraim:

 

            "I write for him the ten thousand, my torah

            As a stranger they are accounted" (viii. 12).

 

That there was written torah from the time of Moses is

the testimony of all the numerous passages that speak

of Moses writing the law, or of the book of Moses, or of

the book of the law. These affirm that Moses wrote torah

(e.g. Deut. xxxi. 9, 11, 24, 26, xxviii. 58, 61, xxix. 21, 29,

xxx. to), and that Joshua wrote torah (Josh. xxiv. 26).

Of course there are scholars who assign a late date to

these passages,l and count their testimony as either false-

hood or fiction. But these scholars themselves hold that

the writing of torah was a part of the earliest literary

writing in Israel, though they date this earliest writing

many centuries after Moses. The passages cited in this

chapter abundantly indicate that the Old Testament writ-

ers lay especial emphasis on the idea of written torah.

            (b) Again, the noun torah is subject to the various

modes of use which we should expect in the case of a

term that was so frequently employed. These throw

light on its meaning.

            It is used in the singular number, in the plural, col-

lectively, abstractly. In other words, we find mention

of a law, laws, law as an aggregate, law as an abstract

conception. It is used definitely or indefinitely, with a

subject genitive, with an object genitive. Certain par-

ticulars in its use are especially significant.

 

            1 The Hexateuch regards Josh. xxiv. 26 as a late addition to E.

 


150            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

            First, the term torah is applied to any particular divine

requirement or other message. It is thus used indefi

Torah denot-       nitely in the singular, both indefinitely and

ing a particu-       definitely in the plural, definitely in the sin-

lar revelation       gular with an object genitive, and perhaps

also with a subject genitive.1 This usage is found in

the records concerning the exodus and concerning

Abraham, in the writings which the older tradition attrib-

utes to Moses, and in the sections which the analytical

critics assign to E and to J. That is, you find it, no

matter to what critical school you belong, in the earliest

extant Hebrew literature, and in every subsequent period.

 

            1 As torah comes from Deity, the subject genitive is invariably a noun

or pronoun denoting Deity; for example, "the torah of Yahaweh," or

"my torah," in the passages cited above. The object genitive denotes the

matter with which the torah concerns itself, e.g. "a torah of loving kind-

ness" (Prov. xxxi. 26). Whenever the word is used, the subject genitive

is implied, and there may be in addition a second subject genitive. For

example, in the instance just given one might speak of the worthy woman's

Yahaweh's law of loving kindness, that is, Yahaweh's torah concerning

loving kindness as presented by the worthy woman.

            A reader is not likely to master these distinctions sharply except by the

process of actually examining instances. The following will serve for

this purpose.

            Torah is used indefinitely in the singular: "Bind thou up a testimony,

seal a torah, among my disciples" (Isa. viii. 16). The context shows that

by torah the prophet here means a particular message in writing. In the

balancing statement (ver. 20) the term torah is perhaps used abstractly.

            The term is also used indefinitely in the plural: "They have trans-

gressed laws" (Isa. xxiv. 5).

            Oftener the plural is used definitely. In connection with the visit of

Jethro, Moses is spoken of as making the people to know the toroth of

Deity (Ex. xviii. 16, 20 E), apparently in judicial matters. Abraham is com-

mended for keeping Yahaweh's toroth (Gen. xxvi. 5 J or JS). At the giving

of the manna, Yahaweh rebukes Israel for not keeping his toroth (Ex. xv:i.

28 J or Ps). Later instances of the word in the plural are Neh. ix. 13; Ps.

cv. 45; Lev. xxvi. 46; Ezek. xliv. 24 and perhaps xliii. 11.  xliv. 5.

            For this purpose of denoting a particular message the word is also used

definitely in the singular with an object genitive. This is frequent in lit-

erary titles or subscriptions. "Moses began to declare this torah" (Deut.

 


            THE PROPHET AND THE LAW               151

 

            Second, the word torah in the singular is employed to

denote an aggregate of divine messages or requirements.

A more specific use with the article or with a                    Torah as an

defining subject genitive will be considered                      aggregate of

later. For the present, we note that this use                        toroth

occurs when the word has no article, or when the article

only indicates that the torah spoken of has been defined

by the context. An instance without the article occurs

in the prayer of Nehemiah: —

 

            "And commandedst them commandments and statutes and a

torah, by the hand of Moses thy servant" (Neh. ix. 14).

 

Here, clearly, torah denotes the aggregate of the Mosaic

requirements or revelation. There are enough similar

instances, some of them referring to Moses and some

not, to make out a clear case.l Instances with the arti-

cle will be found below, especially in connection with

 

i. 5), the torah referred to being the address that occupies the four follow-

ing chapters. "This is the torah of the burnt-offering" (Lev. vii. 37–38).

"This is the torah of the plague of leprosy in a garment" (Lev. xiii. 59).

Cf. Lev. vii. r, 11, xi. 46–47; Num. v. 29–30, etc.

            Possibly the term denotes a particular message in some cases where it

is definite with only a subject genitive.

            "Hear ye the word of Yahaweh, ye officials of Sodom!

Give ear to the torah of our God, ye people of Gomorrah!" (Isa. i. io).

Here it is possible to hold that the torah to which the prophet refers is

merely the message which he is in the act of uttering; though the context

shows that the term may equally well have a wider meaning.

            1"A true torah was in his mouth" (Mal. ii. 6).

            "A law Moses gave in charge to us,

            A possession for the assembly of Jacob" (Deut. xxxiii. 4).

            "And he established a testimony in Jacob,

            And a law he placed in Israel" (Ps. lxxviii. 5).

            "A wise man's torah is a fountain of life" (Prov. xiii. 14).

            " A torah of loving kindness is on her tongue " (Prov. xxxi. 26).

            " A commandment is a lamp, and a torah is a light " (Prov. vi. 23).

            The requiring " one law " for the stranger and the homeborn, or for the

sin-offering and the guilt-offering (Ex. xii. 49; Num. xv. i6, 29; Lev. vii.

7), may perhaps be regarded as a variant of this usage.


152            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

what is said concerning the book of the law. Some of

the instances with the article are of early date.

            Third, this indefinite general use easily passes over

into an abstract use. This is mainly concealed in the

Torah used         English versions, which translate in such

as an abstract      cases with the article, but the usage is very

noun                 abundant. It occurs sometimes in plain prose.

In Asa,'s time Judah was "without law-expounding

priest, and without law"; and Jehoshaphat's judges

were to be faithful "between law and commandment"

(2 Chron. xv. 3, xix. 10). But the usage is more fre-

quent in poetry, and is to some extent a matter of

poetic diction. In the only place where the word torah

occurs in the book of Job, Job's friends are exhorting

him to submit to the divine will: —

 

            "Receive, pray, law from his mouth " (xxii. 22).

In the glowing description common to Isaiah and Micah

we read: —

 

            "For out of Zion law shall go forth,

            and the word of Yahaweh out of Jerusalem" (Isa. ii. 3; Mic. iv. 2).

 

It is not "the law," but "law," which Yahaweh-- or

his Servant —magnifies and makes honorable (Isa. xlii.

21). And so in other instances). Such use as this of

such a term presupposes that the term has long been

 

            1 Additional instances are: —

            "Forsakers of law praise a wicked person,

            While keepers of law contend with them."

            "He that guardeth law is a discerning son."

            "He turneth away his ear from hearing law,

            Also his prayer is an abomination" (Prov. xxviii. 4, 7, 9).

            "Where there is no vision a people is to be shunned,

            But one that keepeth law, happy is it" (Prov. xxix. i8).

            "Law will go forth . . . for a light of peoples" (Isa. li. 4).

            "Law is slackened" (Hab. i. 4).

            "Her' priests . . . have done violence to law" (Zeph. iii. 4).

            "Law is not" (Lam. ii. 9).
           THE PROPHET AND THE LAW                    153

 

familiar, and we are therefore not surprised at finding

this use absent from the earlier writings.

            Fourth, among the uses of the word torah one in par-

ticular is significant — that in which the definite phrase

"the torah" designates a certain definite and                      The definite

recognized aggregate. The phrase may of               aggregate known

course appear in variant forms: "the torah                         as the torah

of Yahaweh," "the torah of our God," "my torah," "thy

torah," "his torah," "the torah," "this torah." We must

presently consider this somewhat in detail, but it is more

convenient to complete first our classification of the uses

of the term.

            Fifth, there remains one more use to be noted. It is a

matter of natural variation that any part of the torah-ag-

gregate may sometimes be called by the name                  "The torah"

that properly belongs to the whole. A con-                         as some part

spicuous instance is that of "the law," which                       of the aggregate

Joshua is said to have inscribed on the altar at Mount

Ebal. As this was written not on fine-grained stone but

on plaster, it must have been in coarse script, and there-

fore cannot have been a very long piece of literature.

Yet it is described as " all the words of this law " (Deut.

xxvii. 3, 8).1

 

            "Law shall perish from priest " (Ezek. vii. 26).

            "Pray, ask the priests for law" (Hag. ii. u).

            "And law they seek from his mouth" (Mal. ii. 7).

            1 This appears more specifically in the statements in Joshua: —

"And he wrote there upon the stones the duplicate of the law of Moses

which he had written before the sons of Israel." "And afterward he read

all the words of the law, the blessing and the cursing" (Josh. viii. 32, 34).

This altar inscription must have been a good deal briefer than the whole

book of Deuteronomy, and much more must it have been briefer than "the

book of the law" taken in any wider meaning. Perhaps it was that part

of Deuteronomy that contains the blessings and the curses, say xxvii—xxviii

or xxvii-xxx (Josh. viii. 33-34; Deut. xi. 26-29, xxvii. 2 sqq.). Perhaps it

had the same limits with "the covenant" of "the land of Moab" (Deut.

xxix. I [xxviii. 69]). It may perhaps be identical with "the book of the


154             THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

Such are the five uses of the term. It is used of a

single divine requirement or other message; it is used

of an undefined aggregate ; it is used abstractly; it is

used of the recognized definite aggregate; it is used by

synecdoche of the parts of this aggregate.1

 

covenant" (2 Ki. xxiii. 2) which, in Josiah's time, was read entire at one

public meeting, and which is clearly identical with either the whole or a

part of the book of the law that was found at that time.

            We should he careful not to confuse the phraseology in Josh. viii. 30-

35. Verses 30-34 describe the solemnities of the altar, with the accom-

panying blessing and cursing. Verse 35 seems to describe a different solem-

nity as occurring at the same time — that of the public septennial reading

of the law, as required in Deut. xxxi. 10-13. This appears from the men-

tion of "all the assembly of Israel, and the women and the little ones, and

the sojourner that walketh in the midst of them."

            In the account of the altar solemnity we are told that they acted "ac-

cording to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses" (31),

and that one read the blessings and cursings "according to all that is

written in the book of the law" (34). In these two places " the book of

the law " is the book which Deuteronomy says that Moses wrote. From

this book they took "the duplicate of the law of Moses" which was in-

scribed on the altar, and "all the words of the law, the blessing and the

cursing" which were read. The passage that was inscribed is probably

also the one that is here said to have been read. It was both read and

copied from the book of the law, but the question whether it was the whole

of that hook is left open.

            1 There can be no dispute, I think, that these five categories are distinct,

or that they include all the instances that occur, though there may occa-

sionally be room for difference of opinion as to the category to which a

particular instance should be assigned. Above we have cited, for example,

the Levitical "torah of the burnt-offering" as one of the particular toroth

which have been combined into the torah-aggregate; it would be equally

possible to regard it as merely a section of that aggregate. Or how is it

with the torah introduced in Deut. iv. 44? Did the writer conceive of what

follows as a single prophetic message? or as a relatively brief aggregate of

such messages? or as a section of the well-known torah-aggregate?

When David speaks of the message which Nathan has just brought him as

"the torah of mankind" (2 Sam. vii. 19; I Chron. xvii. 17), he seems to

be thinking of it not as a separate message, but as the significant repetition

of something in the torah-aggregate. Such differences in detail do not

affect the validity of the classification itself.


                  THE PROPHET AND THE LAW            155

 

            6. What we have learned concerning the five uses of

the term will help us as we now inquire into the nature

of the torah-aggregate.

            (a) The word torah might supposably denote `he for-

mally recognized aggregate of the toroth received from

Deity whenever the word has the definite               Limitations

article, or is made definite by some designa-                     of the term

tion of Yahaweh or Elohim used as a subject genitive.

In fact, however, there are important limitations to this,

both those drawn from the several contexts and those

drawn from other sources. It seems best to examine

some of the limitations before we look at instances.

            First, as we have already seen, the term "the torah"

may denote some particular torah made definite by the

context, instead of denoting the one recognized torah-

aggregate.1  Or second, the definite phrase may be used

of some lesser aggregate, and, in particular, of some

section of the great aggregate.2 Third, there may be

instances in which the definite phrase is used in a

vague and general way. One cannot with perfect

sharpness draw the line between the use in which

torah is an undefined aggregate and that in which the

aggregate is perfectly defined. Fourth, it will not do

to assume that the phrase is always the equivalent

of written scripture. "The torah" is wide enough to

 

            1 For example, "the law of our God" (Isa. i. 10) is capable of being

understood as denoting the message which the prophet is uttering at the

time.

            2 For example, the entity that in Deuteronomy is called "the book of

the law" seems to be also called "the law" (Deut. xvii. 18, iv. 8).

The long discourse in Deuteronomy (iv. 44–xxvi) is in its title called "the

torah." It is possible to regard an instance of this kind as a particular

torah, or as a lesser aggregate of torah, or as a section of the one torah-

aggregate; it is not imperative, and in some cases is impossible, to regard

it as the one torah-aggregate.


156          THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

include oral as well as written torah.1 And, fifth, if

the torah-aggregate existed at all, it was as a growing

A growing          aggregate. It was a body of literature when

aggregate           the term first began to be applied to writings,

and it enlarged its boundaries afterward.2

            Remembering these points, as we examine the in-

stances, we shall find them yielding the conception that

all torah, oral or written, is a unit. There are plenty of

 

            1 Nevertheless it is in fact applied mainly to written torah, which offered

especial facilities for being aggregated. The phrase is not tied up to any

particular theory of the collecting of the writings; they might supposably

be thought of as an aggregate without any collection being physically made,

or prior to the making of a collection. But certain passages inform us

that there was a custom of laying up writings "before Yahaweh," and the

existence of this custom is affirmed even by scholars who reject as unhis-

torical the particular accounts we have of it. It seems certain that written

torah was aggregated physically, as well as in thought.

            It was in the temple that the men of Josiah's time found "the book of

the law" (2 Ki. xxii. 8). The accounts say that the priests of Jehosha-

phat's time had in their charge " the law of Yahaweh " in writing (z Chron.

xvii. 9). The book of Deuteronomy is very explicit in its account of the

written law placed by Moses in the charge of the priests and the civil au-

thorities (Deut. xxxi. 25-26), and touching their use of the written law for

the guidance of the king, when there should be a king (xvii. i8). In view

of these instances we cannot resist the conclusion that the author of t Sam-

uel regarded "the book " (x. 25, not " a book") in which Samuel wrote

"the manner of the kingdom" and "laid it up before Yahaweh" as a rec-

ognized aggregate of torah. On the same footing is "the book" (Ex.

xvii. 14) in which Moses wrote "for a memorial" concerning Amalek.

"The torah" in writing is said to have been accessible to Joshua "at the

sanctuary of Yahaweh " ( Josh. xxiv. 26).

            2 This conception is not necessarily excluded by the views of any school

of criticism, though the different schools would picture the details differ-

ently. The view properly to he inferred from the phenomena is not that

there came to be in Israel a heterogeneous accumulation of writings, from

which ecclesiastical authority at length made a selection, the selection

thereby acquiring the character of torah. On the contrary, all torah,

whether oral or written, was regarded as sacred from the moment when it

came from the tongue or the pen of the prophet. The writings testify to

this, and it is also independently proved by the phenomena they present.


             THE PROPHET AND THE LAW           157

 

instances that are not vague, but clear and distinct.

There are plenty of instances that are not limited to

some particular torah, or to some lesser aggregate. We

shall find that this conception implies a general aggre-

gate of written torah. Not all the toroth given through

the prophets were preserved, but some of them were.

They were regarded as an accumulating sacred litera-

ture, God-given and authoritative ; and this growing

aggregate was, while it was yet growing, called "the

torah."

            (b) We proceed to examine some of the instances.

Look first at a group of instances from the records of

the early part of the public career of Moses, in writings

which the older tradition ascribes to Moses,                     Instances

and which the analysis now current ascribes                      from the earlier

to J and E. Above, we have found these records                 Mosaic records

writings mentioning toroth in the plural. They also use

the definite singular phrases, "the torah of Yahaweh,"

"my torah," "the torah." The instances prove at least

that in that generation men thought of Yahaweh's re-

quirements not merely as so many toroth, but as a unit,

torah. Of course the unit is here not the pentateuch,

for the passages represent that most of the pentateuchal

events were then still in the future. But the habit of

thinking of Yahaweh's communications as aggregated

in a unit was already a mental habit in Israel. And we

 

            1 The Israelites are to teach their children concerning the passover

"that the torah of Yahaweh may be in thy mouth" (Ex. xiii. 9 D. When

he gives the manna he chides Israel for not keeping his toroth, but he also

tests them "whether they will walk in my torah" (Ex. xvi. 28, 4 J). And

at Sinai he says: "And I will give thee the tables of stone and the torah

and the commandment which I have written" (Ex. xxiv. 12 E or E8).

In the first two of these instances, and probably in the third also, "the

torah" is an aggregate. In the third, and possibly in the other two, " the

torah" is in writing.


158            THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

 

may be sure that people who had this habit did not:

exempt from its operation any written torah which they

might possess. The testimony of the passages is that

this habit dates as far back as the beginning of the forty

years of the exodus; and even one who disbelieves the

testimony of these writers must see that the writers them-

selves have the habit. Whatever be one's critical point

of view, one is compelled to hold that this way of think-

ing was prevalent in Israel from the times of the earliest

records.

            Second, the conception of " the torah" as an aggre-

gate is frequent in Deuteronomy, and in the scriptures

which presuppose Deuteronomy.

            Conspicuous here are the passages that speak of the

"book of the torah." The account specifies portions of

"The book          its contents (Deut. xxxii. 44-46, xxvii, xxviii

of the torah         especially 58, 61, xxix especially 21, 29, xxx

especially 1o). It says that Moses wrote this book and

laid it up by the side of the ark, in the custody of the

priests and of the civil authorities (Deut. xxxi. 9-13,

24-26). It says that the book was to be publicly read

every seventh year; was to be kept by the priests at the

capital, and the king furnished with a copy (xvii. 18–19);

and, by inference, that the priests shall use it in decid-

ing appealed cases (xvii. 11). The biblical narratives

further say that this book of the law was handed to

Joshua, and used by him (Josh. i. 7, 8, viii. 31, xxiii.

6), and was an important factor in all the subsequent

history.l

 

            1 It is represented to have been so when David charged Solomon, in

language strongly Deuteronomic, to act "according to that which is written

in the law of Moses" (i Ki. ii. 3); and when it is recorded of Amaziah

that "the children of the murderers he put not to death, according to that

which is written in the book of the law of Moses" (2 Ki. xiv. 6; cf. Deut.

xxiv. 16); and in the days of Josiah, when the highpriest "found the book


            THE PROPHET AND THE LAW             159

 

What was this "book of the law"? Supposably it

might be a general name for the aggregate of all recog-

nized written toroth, or supposably it might denote some

section of this aggregate, or some lesser aggregate, or

supposably it may be used sometimes in one of these

senses and sometimes in another.1