Prophet a person who acts as the organ of divine communication with men, especially with regard to the future. He differs from a priest in representing the divine side of this mediation, while the priest rather acts from the human side. The following article therefore discusses chiefly the personal relations of the prophet himself. SEE PROPHECY.
I. The Title in Scripture. — The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is נָבַיא (nabi), derived from the verb נָבָא, connected by Gesenius with נָבִע, "to bubble forth," like a fountain. If this etymology be correct, the substantive would signify either a person who, as it were, involuntarily bursts forth with spiritual utterances under the divine influence (comp. Ps 40:1, "My heart is bubbling up of a good matter"), or simply one who pours forth words. The analogy of the word נָטִŠ (natdph), which has the force of "dropping" as honey, and is used by Mic 2:6,11; Eze 21:2, and Am 7:16 in the sense of prophesying, points to the last signification. The verb נָבָא is found only in the niphal and hithpael, a peculiarity which it shares with many other words expressive of speech (comp. loquifari, vociferari, concionari, φθἑγγομαι , as well as μαντεύομαι and vaticinari). Bunsen (Gott in Geschichte, p. 141) and Davidson (Intr. Old Test. 2, 430) suppose nabi to signify the man to whom announcements are made by God, i.e. inspired. Ex 4:1-17 is the classical passage as to the meaning of this word. There God says to Moses, "Aaron shall be thy נָבַיא (nabi) unto the people, and thou shalt be unto him instead of God." The sense is. "Aaron shall speak what thou shalt communicate to him." This appellation implies, then, the prophet's relation to God: he speaks not of his own accord, but what the Spirit puts into his mouth. Thus נָבַיא (nabi) is an adjective of passive signification: he who has been divinely inspired, who has received from God the revelations which he proclaims. But it is more in accordance with the usage of the word to regard it as signifying (actively) one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The latter signification is preferred by Ewald, Havernick, Oehler, Hengstenberg, Bleek, Lee, Pusey, M'Caul, and the great majority of Biblical critics. We have the word in Barnabas (נָבַיא בִּר), which is rendered υἱὸς παρακλήσεως (Ac 4:36), one whom God has qualified to impart consolation, light, and strength to others. Augustine says, "The prophet of God is nothing else nisi enunciator verborum Dei hominibus. So Heidegger, "Nabi is properly every utterer of the words of another, not from his own, but from another's influence and will." Two other Hebrew words are used to designate a prophet-— רֹאֶה (nre/b) and חֹזֶה (chozeh)-both signifying one who sees. They are rendered in the A.V. by "seer;" in the Sept. usually by βλέπων or ὁρῶν, sometimes by προφήτης (1Ch 26:28; 2Ch 16:7,10). The three words seem to be contrasted with each other in 1Ch 29:29. "The acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer (roeh), and in the book of Nathan the prophet (nabi), and in the book of Gad the seer (chozeh)." Roeh is a title almost appropriated to Samuel. It is only used ten times, and in seven of these it is applied to Samuel (1Sa 9:9,11,18-19; 1Ch 9:22; 1Ch 26:28; 1Ch 29:29). On two other occasions it is applied to Hanani (2Ch 16:7,10). Once it is used by Isa 30:10 with no reference to any particular person. It was superseded in general use by the word nabi, which Samuel (himself entitled nabi as well as roeh [1Sa 3:20; 2Ch 35:18]) appears to have revived after a period of desuetude (1Sa 9:9), and to have applied to the prophets organized by him. The verb רָאָה, from which it is derived, is the common prose word signifying "to see:" חָזָה — whence the substantive חֹזֶה(chozeh) is derived-is more poetical, q.d. "to gaze." Chozeh is rarely found except in the books of the Chronicles, but חָזוֹן is the word constantly used for the prophetical vision. It is found in the Pentateuch, in Samuel, in the Chronicles, in Job, and in most of the prophets. In 1Sa 9:9 we read, "He that is now called a prophet (nabi) was beforetime called a seer (roeh);" from whence Stanley (Lect. on Jewish Church) has concluded that roeh was "the oldest designation of the prophetic office," "superseded by nabi shortly after Samuel's time, when nabi first came into use" (ibid. 18, 19). This seems opposed to the fact that nabi is the word commonly used in the Pentateuch, whereas roeh does not appear until the days of Samuel. The passage in the book of Samuel is clearly a parenthetical insertion, perhaps made by the nabi Nathan (or whoever was the original author of the book), perhaps added at a later date, with the view of explaining how it was that Samuel bore the title of roeh, instead of the now usual appellation of nabi. To the writer the days of Samuel were "beforetime," and he explains that in those ancient days — that is, the days of Samuel — the word used for prophet was roeh, not nabi. But that does not imply that roeh was the primitive word, and that nabi first came into use subsequently to Samuel (see Hengstenberg, Beitrage zur Einleitung ins A. T. 3, 335). Stanley represents chozeh as "another antique title;" but on no sufficient grounds. Chozdh is first found in 2Sa 24:11; so that it does not seem to have come into use until roeh had almost disappeared. It is also found in the books of Kings (2 Kings, 17:13) and Chronicles (frequently), in Am 7:12; Isa 19:10; Mic 3:7, and the derivatives of the verb chazah are used by the prophets to designate their visions down to the Captivity (comp. Isa 1:1; Da 8:1; Zec 13:4). The derivatives of raah are rarer, and, as being prose words, are chiefly used by Daniel (comp. Eze 1:1; Da 10:7). On examination we find that nabi existed before and after and alongside of roeh and chozeh, but that chozehl was somewhat more modern than roeh.
Whether there is any difference in the usage of these three words, and, if any, what that difference is, has been much debated (see Witsius, Miscell. Sacra, i, 1, § 19; Carpzovius, Introd. ad Libros Canon. V T. 3, 1, §2; Winer, Real-Wortenbuch, art. "Propheten"). Havernick (Einleitung, Th. i; roeh. i. § 56) considers nabi to express the title of those who officially belonged to the prophetic order, while roeh and chozeh denote those who received a prophetical revelation. Dr. Lee (Inspiration of Holy Scripture, p. 543) agrees with Hivernick in his explanation of nabi, but he identifies roeh in meaning rather with nabi than with chozeh. He further throws out a suggestion that chozeh is the special designation of the prophet attached to the royal household. In 2Sa 24:11, Gad is described as "the prophet (nabi) Gad, David's seer (chozeh)," and elsewhere he is called "David's seer (chozeh)" (1Ch 21:9), "the king's seer (chozeh)" (2Ch 29:25). "The case of Gad," Dr. Lee thinks, "affords the clew to the difficulty, as it clearly indicates that attached to the royal establishment there was usually an individual styled "the king's seer," who might at the same time be a nabi." The suggestion is ingenious (see, in addition to places quoted above, 1Ch 25:5; 1Ch 29:29; 2Ch 29:30; 2Ch 35:15), but it was only David (possibly also Manasseh, 2Ch 33:18) who, so far as we read, had this seer attached to his person; and in any case there is nothing in the word chozeh to denote the relation of the prophet to the king, but only in the connection in which it stands with the word king. On the whole, it would seem that the same persons are designated by the three words nabi, roeh, and chozeh the last two titles being derived from the prophets' power of seeing the visions presented to them by God; the first from their function of revealing and proclaiming God's truth to men. When Gregory Naz. (Or. 28) calls Ezekiel ὁ τῶν μεγάλων ἐπόπτης καὶ ἐξηγητὴς μυστηρίων, he gives a sufficiently exact translation of the two titles chozeh or roeh, and nabi.
Sometimes the prophets are called צוֹפַאַים (tsophiim), i.e. those who espy. explore for the people, a "watchman" (Jer 6:17; Eze 3:17; Eze 33:7). Such also is the usage of שׁוֹמֵר (shomer), i.e. "a watchman" (Isa 21:11; Isa 62:6); and roiim, i.e. shepherds (Zec 11:5; Zec 8:16), in reference to the spiritual care and religious nurture of the people. Other names, as "man of God," "servant of Jehovah," and now and then "angel," or "messenger of Jehovah," etc., do not belong to the prophets as such, but only in so far as they are of the number of servants and instruments of God. The phrase "man of the Spirit" (רוִּח, Ho 9:7) explains the agency by which the communication came. In the appointment of the seventy elders the Lord says to Moses, "I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it on them" (Nu 11:17). So with regard to Eldad and Medad, "the Spirit rested upon them,... and they prophesied in the camp." The resting of the Spirit upon them was equivalent to the gift of prophecy (see 2Pe 1:21).
The word nabi is uniformly translated in the Sept. by προφήτης, and in the A.V. by "prophet." In classical Greek, προφήτης signifies one who speaks for another, specially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man (Liddell and Scott, s.v.). Hence its essential meaning is" an interpreter." Thus Apollo is a προφήτης, as being the interpreter of Zeus (Eschylus, Eum. 19). Poets are the Prophets of the Muses, as being their interpreters (Plato, Phcedr. 262 d). The προφῆται attached to heathen temples are so named from their interpreting the oracles delivered by the inspired and unconscious μάντεις (Plato, Tim. 72 b; Herod. 7:111, note [ed. Bahr]). We have Plato's authority for deriving μάντις from μαίνομαι (l.c.). The use of the word προφήτης in its modern sense is post-classical, and is derived from the Sept.
From the mediaeval use of the word προφητεία, prophecy passed into the English language in the sense of prediction, and this sense it has retained as its popular meaning (see Richardson, s.v.). The larger sense of
interpretation has not, however, been lost. Thus we find in Bacon, "An exercise commonly called prophesying, which was this: that the ministers within a precinct did meet upon a week-day in some principal town, where there was some ancient grave minister that was president, and an auditory admitted of gentlemen or other persons of leisure. Then every minister successively. beginning with the youngest, did handle one and the same part of Scripture, spending severally some quarter of an hour or better, and in the whole some two hours. And so the exercise being begun and concluded with prayer, and the president giving a text for the next meeting, the assembly was dissolved" (Pacification of the Church). This meaning of the word is made further familiar to us by the title of Jeremy Taylor's treatise On Liberty of Prophesying. Nor was there any risk of the title of a book published in our own days, On the Prophetical Office of the Church (Oxf. 1838), being misunderstood. In fact, the English word prophet, like the word inspiration, has always been used in a larger and in a closer sense. In the larger sense our Lord Jesus Christ is a "prophet," Moses is a "prophet," Mohammed is a "prophet." The expression means that they proclaimed and published a new religious dispensation. In a similar, though not identical sense, the Church is said to have a "prophetical," i.e. an expository and interpretative, office. But in its closer sense the word, according to usage, though not according to etymology, involves the idea of foresight. This is and always has been its more usual acceptation. The different meanings, or shades of meaning, in which the abstract noun is employed in Scripture have been drawn out by Locke as follows: "Prophecy comprehends three things: prediction; singing by the dictate of the Spirit; and understanding and explaining the mysterious, hidden sense of Scripture by an immediate illumination and motion of the Spirit" (Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 12, note, p. 121 [Lond. 1742]). It is in virtue of this last signification of the word that the prophets of the New Test. are so called (1 Corinthians 12); by virtue of the second that the sons of Asaph, etc., are said to have "prophesied with a harp" (25:3), and Miriam and Deborah are termed "prophetesses." That the idea of potential if not actual prediction enters into the conception expressed by the word prophecy, when that word is used to designate the function of the Hebrew prophets, seems to be proved by the following passages of Scripture: De 18:22; Jer 28:9; Ac 2:30; Ac 3:18-21; 1Pe 1:10; 2Pe 1:19-20; 2Pe 3:2. Etymologically, however, it is certain that neither prescience nor prediction is implied by the term used in the Hebrew language. But it seems to be incorrect to say that the English word was "originally" used in the wider sense of "preaching," and that it became "limited" to the meaning of "predicting" in the 17th century, in consequence of "an etymological mistake" (Stanley, Lect. 19, 20). The word entered into the English language in its sense of predicting. It could not have been otherwise, for at the time of the formation of the English language the word προφητεία had, by usage, assumed popularly the meaning of prediction. We find it ordinarily employed by early as well as by late writers in this sense (see Polydore Virgil, Hist. of England, 4:161 [Camden ed. 1846]; Coventry Mysteries, p. 65 [Shakespeare Soc. ed. 1841]). It is probable that the meaning was "limited" to "prediction" as much and as little before the 17th century as it has been since.
II. The Prophetical Order. —
1. Its Historical Development. — Generally speaking, every one was a prophet to whom God communicated his mind in this peculiar manner. Thus, e.g. Abraham is called a prophet (Ge 20:7), not, as is commonly thought, on account of general revelations granted him by God, but because such as he received were in the special form described; as, indeed, in chap. 15 it is expressly stated that divine communications were made to him in visions and dreams. The patriarchs as a class are in the same manner called prophets (Ps 105:15). Moses is more specifically a prophet, as being a proclaimer of a new dispensation, a revealer of God's will, and in virtue of his divinely inspired songs (Ex 15; De 32; De 33; Ps 90); but his main work was not prophetical, and he is therefore formally distinguished from prophets (Nu 12:6) as well as classed with them (De 18:15; De 34:10). Aaron is the prophet of Moses (Ex 7:1); Miriam (Ex 15:20) is a prophetess; and we find the prophetic gift in the elders who "prophesied" when "the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them," and in Eldad and Medad, who "prophesied in the camp" (Nu 11:27). At the time of the sedition of Miriam, the possible existence of prophets is recognised (Nu 12:6).
When the Mosaic economy had been established, a new element was introduced. The sacerdotal caste then became the instrument by which the members of the Jewish theocracy were taught and governed in things spiritual. Feast and fast, sacrifice and offering, rite and ceremony, constituted a varied and ever-recurring system of training and teaching by type and symbol. To the priests, too, was intrusted the work of "teaching the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses" (Le 10:11). Teaching by act and teaching by word were alike their task. This office they adequately fulfilled for some hundred or more years after the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. But during the time of the Judges the priesthood sank into a state of degeneracy, and the people were no longer affected by the acted lessons of the ceremonial service. They required less enigmatic warnings and exhortations. Under these circumstances a new moral power was evoked- the regular Prophetic Line. Special functionaries of this kind had from time to time already appeared. In the days of the Judges we find that Deborah (Jg 4:4) was a prophetess; a prophet (6:8) rebuked and exhorted the Israelites when oppressed by the Midianites; and in Samuel's childhood "a man of God" predicted to Eli the death of his two sons, and the curse that was to fall on his descendants (1Sa 2:27). But it was now time for a more formal institution of the prophetic order. Samuel, himself a Levite, of the family of Kohath (1Ch 6:28), and certainly acting as a priest, was the instrument used at once for effecting a reform in the sacerdotal order (1Ch 9:22), and for giving to the prophets a position of influence which they had never before held. So important was the work wrought by him that he is classed in Holy Scripture with Moses (Jer 15:1; Ps 99:6; Ac 3:24), Samuel being the great religious reformer and organizer of the prophetical order, as Moses was the great legislator and founder of the priestly rule. Nevertheless, it is not to be supposed that Samuel created the prophetic order as a new thing before unknown. The germs both of the prophetic and of the regal order are found in the law as given to the Israelites by Moses (De 13:1; De 18:20; De 17:18), but they were not yet developed, because there was not yet the demand for them. Samuel, who evolved the one, himself saw the evolution of the other. It is a vulgar error respecting Jewish history to suppose that there was an antagonism between the prophets and the priests. There is not a trace of such antagonism. Isaiah may denounce a wicked hierarchy (Isa 1:10), but it is because it is wicked, not because it is a hierarchy. Malachi "sharply reproves" the priests (Mal 2:1), but it is in order to support the priesthood (comp. 1, 14). Mr. F. W. Newman even designates Ezekiel's writings as "hard sacerdotalism," "tedious and unedifying as Leviticus itself" (Hebr. Monarch. p. 330). The prophetical order was, in truth, supplemental, not antagonistic, to the sacerdotal. SEE SAMUEL.
Samuel took measures to make his work of restoration permanent as well as effective for the moment. For this purpose he instituted companies, or colleges of prophets. One we find in his lifetime at Ramah (1Sa 19:19-20); others afterwards at Bethel (2Ki 2:3), Jericho (2Ki 2:5), Gilgal (2Ki 4:38), and elsewhere (2Ki 6:1). Their constitution and object were similar to those of theological colleges. Into them were gathered promising students, and here they were trained for the office which they were afterwards destined to fulfil. So successful were these institutions that from the time of Samuel to the closing of the Canon of the Old Test. there seems never to have been wanting a due supply of men to keep up the line of official prophets. There appears to be no sufficient ground for the common statement that after the schism the colleges existed only in the Israelitish kingdom, or for Knobel's supposition that they ceased with Elisha (Prophetismus, 2, 39), nor again for Bishop Lowth's statement that "they existed from the earliest times of the Hebrew republic" (Sacred Poetry, lect. 18), or for M. Nicolas's assertion that their previous establishment can be inferred from 1Sa 8; 1Sa 9; 1Sa 10 (Etudes Critiques sur la Bible, p. 365). We have, however, no actual proof of their existence except in the days of Samuel and of Elijah and Elisha. The apocryphal books of the Maccabees (1, 4:46; 9:27; 14:41) and of Ecclesiasticus (36:15) represent them as extinct. The colleges appear to have consisted of students differing in number. Sometimes they were very numerous (1Ki 18:4; 1Ki 22:6; 2Ki 2:16). One elderly, or leading prophet, presided over them (1Sa 19:20), called their father (1Sa 10:12), or master (2Ki 2:3), who was apparently admitted to his office by the ceremony of anointing (1Ki 19:16; Isa 61:1; Ps 105:15). They were called his sons. Their chief subject of study was, no doubt, the law and its interpretation; oral, as distinct from symbolical, teaching being henceforward tacitly transferred from the priestly to the prophetical order. Subsidiary subjects of instruction were music and sacred poetry, both of which had been connected with prophecy from the time of Moses (Ex 15:20) and the Judges (Jg 4:4; Jg 5:1). The prophets that meet Saul "came down from the high place with a psaltery and a tabret, and a pipe and a harp before them" (1Sa 10:5). Elijah calls a minstrel to evoke the prophetic gift in himself (2Ki 3:15). David "separates to the service of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps and with psalteries and with cymbals.... All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord with cymbals, psalteries, and harps for the service of the house of God" (1Ch 25:16). Hymns, or sacred songs, are found in the books of Jon 2:2; Isa 12:1; Isa 26:1; Hab 3:2. It was probably the duty of the prophetical students to compose verses to be sung in the Temple (see Lowth, Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, lect. 18). Having been themselves trained and taught. the prophets, whether still residing within their college or having left its precincts, had the task of teaching others. From the question addressed to the Shunamite by her husband, "Wherefore wilt thou go to him to-day? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath" (2Ki 4:23), it appears that weekly and monthly religious meetings were held as an ordinary practice by the prophets (see Patrick, Conmm. ad loc.). Thus we find that "Elisha sat in his house" engaged in his official occupation (comp. Eze 8:1; Eze 14:1; Eze 20:1), "and the elders sat with him" (2Ki 6:32), when the king of Israel sent to slay him. It was at these meetings, probably, that many of the warnings and exhortations on morality and spiritual religion were addressed by the prophets to their countrymen. SEE PROPHETS, SCHOOLS OF.
The schools of the prophets were thus engaged in what we may call pastoral functions, rather than in the disclosure of things to come; their office was to bring home to men's business and bosoms the announcements already made. Selected from the Levitical and priestly classes, they performed services chiefly of a priestly character (1Sa 9:13), but presided over devotional exercises and gave spiritual instruction. We may regard Elijah as the type of the whole prophetical order at this period; "a man of heroic energy in action, rather than of prolific thought or excellent discourse. Power was given him to smite the earth with plagues (Re 11:6). When an impression had been made by these extraordinary displays of power, a still small voice was heard to quicken the people to newness of life." If we pass on to the religious teachers who are associated with the name and age of David — Nathan, Solomon, and others, who composed the Psalms — we shall see that these aimed at the religious education of their contemporaries by a pure stream of didactic and devotional poetry. Their object was to advance the members of the ancient economy to the highest degree of light and purity which was attainable in that state of minority. The predictive element crops out most distinctly in the Messianic psalms, which point to the ultimate completion of the kingdom in David's Lord, and the universal reign of righteousness, truth, and peace. When these efforts failed to stem the tide of corruption and to rescue the chosen people from disorder, ancient prophecy assumed the form of specific prediction. The moral element is chiefly seen in denouncing the iniquity and unrighteousness of the age, but the distinctive characteristic is that, in exposing the evils which prevailed, they directed the eye to the future. This band of religious teachers who are popularly spoken of as "the prophets" commenced with Hosea soon after the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. Hosea's labors commenced in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel, and were prolonged to the time of Hezekiah, comprising more than sixty years, so that with him were contemporary Amos, Jonah, Joel, Obadiah, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum. Next to these in order of time cane Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. The last three were Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. From these we derive our amplest materials for comparing the anticipations of prophecy with the subsequent events of history. Thus the prophets of the Old Covenant form a regular succession; they are members of an unbroken continuous chain, of which one perpetually reaches forth the hand to the other. SEE PROPHETS, MAJOR, AND MINOR.
In the first book of the Maccabees (9:17) the discontinuance of the prophetic calling is considered as forming an important era in Jewish history (see Stemann, De TerDmino Prophetarum [Rost. 1723]), while at the same time an expectation of the renewal in future ages of prophetic gifts is avowed (1 Maccabees 4:46; 14:41). After the Babylonian exile the sacred writings were collected, which enabled every one to find the way of salvation; but the immediate revelations to the people of Israel were to cease for a while, in order to raise a stronger longing for the appearance of the Messiah, and to prepare for him a welcome reception. For the same reason the ark of the covenant had been taken away from the people. The danger of a complete apostasy, which in earlier times might have been incurred by this withdrawal, was not now to be apprehended. The external worship of the Lord was so firmly established that no extraordinary helps were wanted. Taking also into consideration the altered character of the people, we may add that the time after the exile was more fit to produce men learned in the law than prophets. Before this period, the faithful and the unbelieving were strongly opposed to each other, which excited the former to great exertions. These relaxed when the opposition ceased, and pious priests now took the place of prophets. The time after the exile is characterized by weakness and dependence; the people looked up to the past as to a height which they could not gain; the earlier writings obtained unconditional authority, and the disposition for receiving prophetic gifts was lost. About a hundred years after the return from the Babylonian exile, the prophetic profession ceased. The Jewish tradition uniformly states that after Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi no prophet arose among the Jews till John the Baptist woke afresh the echoes of a long lost inspiration as the prelude to a new dispensation. For its resumption under the New Test. economy, see § 10 below.
2. Manner of Life of the Prophets.— The prophets went about poorly and coarsely dressed (2Ki 1:8), not as a mere piece of asceticism, but that their very apparel might teach what the people ought to do; it was a "sermo propheticus realis." Comp. 1Ki 21:27, where Ahab does penance in the manner figured by the prophet: "And it came to pass, when Ahab heard these words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh and fasted" (see Nicolai, De Prophetarum Vestitu [Magdeb. 1746]; Zacharia, De ProphetaTumn labitu [Sodin, 1756]). The general appearance and life of the prophet were very similar to those of the Eastern dervish at the present day. His dress was a hairy garment, girt with a leathern girdle (Isa 20:2; Zec 13:4; Mt 3:4). He was married or unmarried as he chose; but his manner of life and diet were stern and austere (2Ki 4:10,38; 1Ki 19:6; Mt 3:4). Generally the prophets were not anxious to attract notice by ostentatious display; nor did they seek worldly wealth, most of them living in poverty and even want (1Ki 14:3; 2Ki 4:1,38,42; 2Ki 6:5). The decay of the congregation of God deeply chagrined them (comp. Mic 7:1, and many passages in Jeremiah). Insult, persecution, imprisonment, and death were often the reward of their godly life. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says (Heb 11:37): "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented" (comp. Christ's speech, Mt 23:29 sq.; 2Ch 24:17 sq.). The condition of the prophets, in their temporal humiliation, is vividly represented in the lives of Elijah and Elisha in the books of the Kings; and Jeremiah concludes the description of his sufferings in the 20th chapter by cursing the day of his birth. Repudiated by the world in which they were aliens, they typified the life of him whose appearance they announced, and whose spirit dwelt in them. They figured him, however, not only in his lowness, but in his elevation. The Lord stood by them, gave evidence in their favor by fulfilling their predictions, frequently proved by miracles that they were his own messengers, or retaliated on their enemies the injury done them. The prophets addressed the people of both kingdoms: they were not confined to particular places, but prophesied where it was required. For this reason they were most numerous in capital towns, especially in Jerusalem, where they generally spoke in the Temple. Sometimes their advice was asked, and then their prophecies take the form of answers to questions submitted to them (Isa 37; Eze 20; Zec 7). But much more frequently they felt themselves inwardly moved to address the people without their advice having been asked, and they were not afraid to stand forward in places where their appearance, perhaps, produced indignation and terror. Whatever lay within or around the sphere of religion and morals formed the object of their care. They strenuously opposed the worship of false gods (Isa 1:10 sq.), as well as the finery of women (3, 16 sq.). Priests, princes, kings, all must hear them — must, however reluctantly, allow them to perform their calling as long as they spoke in the name of the true God, and as long as the result did not disprove their pretensions to be the servants of the invisible King of Israel (Jer 37:15-21).
As seen above, there were institutions for training prophets; the senior members instructed a number of pupils and directed them. These schools had been first established by Samuel (1Sa 10:8; 1Sa 19:19); and at a later time there were such institutions in different places, as Bethel and Gilgal (2Ki 2:3; 2Ki 4:38; 2Ki 6:1). The pupils of the prophets lived in fellowship united, and were called "sons of the prophets;" while the senior or experienced prophets were considered as their spiritual parents, and were styled fathers (comp. 2Ki 2:12; 2Ki 6:21). Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha are mentioned as principals of such institutions. From them the Lord generally chose his instruments. Amos relates of himself (Am 7:14-15), as a thing uncommon, that he had been trained in no school of prophets, but was a herdsman, when the Lord took him to prophesy unto the people of Israel. At the same time, this example shows that the bestowal of prophetic gifts was not limited to the school of the prophets. Women also might come forward as prophetesses, as instanced in Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah, though such cases are of comparatively rare occurrence. We should also observe that only as regards the kingdom of Israel we have express accounts of the continuance of the schools of prophets. What is recorded of them is not directly applicable to the kingdom of Judah, especially since, as stated above, prophecy had in it an essentially different position. We cannot assume that the organization and regulations of the schools of the prophets in the kingdom of Judah were as settled and established as in the kingdom of Israel. In the latter, the schools of the prophets had a kind of moastic constitution: they were not institutions of general education, but missionary stations; which explains the circumstance that they were established exactly in places which were the chief seats of superstition. The spiritual fathers travelled about to visit the training-schools; the pupils had their common board and dwelling, and those who married and left ceased not on that account to be connected with their colleges, but remained members of them. The widow of such a pupil of the schools of prophets who is mentioned in 2Ki 4:1 sq., considered Elisha as the person bound to care for her. The offerings which, by the Mosaic law, were to be given to the Levites were by the pious of the kingdom of Israel brought to the schools of the prophets (4:42). The prophets of the kingdom of Israel thus in some sort stood in a hostile position to the priests. These points of difference in the situation of the prophets of the two kingdoms must not be lost sight of; and we further add that prophecy in the kingdom of Israel was much more completed with extraordinary events than in the kingdom of Judah: the history of the latter offers no prophetical deeds equalling those of Elijah and Elisha. Prophecy in the kingdom of Israel not being grounded on a hierarchy venerable for its antiquity, consecrated by divine miracles, and constantly flavored with divine protection, it needed to be supported more powerful, I and to be legitimized more evidently. In conclusion, it may be observed that the expression "schools of the prophets" is not exactly suited to their nature; as general instruction was not their object. The so-called prophets' schools were associations of men endowed with the spirit of God, for the purpose of carrying on their work, the feeble powers of junior members being directed and strengthened by those of a higher class. To those who entered these unions the Divine Spirit had already been imparted, which was the imperative condition of their reception. SEE PROPHETS, SONS OF.
III. The Prophetic Functions. — These have already been in part glanced at, but the importance of the subject demands a fuller exposition. To belong to the prophetic order and to possess the prophetic gift are not convertible terms. There might be members of the prophetic order to whom the gift of prophecy was not vouchsafed. There might be inspired prophets who did not belong to the prophetic order. As we have seen above, the inspired prophet generally came from the college of the prophets, and belonged to the prophetic order; but this was not always the case. In the instance of the prophet Amos, the rule and the exception are both manifested. When Amaziah, the idolatrous Israelitish priest, threatens the prophet and desires him to "flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread and prophesy there, but not to prophesy again any more at Bethel," Amos in reply says "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go prophesy unto my people Israel" (Am 7:14). That is, thought called to the prophetic office, he did not belong to the prophetic order, and had not been trained in the prophetical colleges; and this. he indicates, was an unusual occurrence (see J. Smith On Prophecy, ch. 9).
1. In a general way, we may indicate that the sphere of action of the prophets was absolutely limited to Israelites, and there is only one case of a prophet going to the heathen to preach among them — that of Jonah sent to Nineveh. He goes, however, to Nineveh to shame the Hebrews by the reception which he meets with there, and acting upon his own nation w as thus even in this case the prophet's ultimate object. Many predictions of the Old Test. concern, indeed, the events of foreign nations, but they are always uttered and written with reference to Israel, and the prophets thought not of publishing them among the heathens themselves. The conversion of the pagans to the worship of the true God was indeed a favorite idea of the prophets; but the Divine Spirit told them that it was not to be effected by their exertions, as it was connected with extensive future changes, which they might not forestall.
That the Lord would send such prophets was promised to the people by Moses, who by a special law (De 18:1) secured them authority and safety. As his ordinary servants and teachers, God appointed the priests: the characteristic mark which distinguished the prophets from them was inspiration; and this explains the circumstance that, in times of great moral and religious corruption, when the ordinary means no longer sufficed to reclaim the people, the number of prophets increased. The regular religious instruction of the people was no part of the business of the prophets: their proper duty \ as only to rouse and excite. 'The contrary — viz. that a part of the regular duty of the prophets was to instruct the people-is often argued from 2Ki 4:23, where it is said that the Shunamitess on the sabbaths and days of new moon used to go to the prophet Elisha; but this passage applies only to the kingdom of Israel, and admits of no inference with respect to the kingdom of Judah. As regards the latter, there is no proof that prophets held meetings for instruction and edification on sacred days. Their position was here quite different from that of the prophets in the kingdom of Israel. The agency of the prophets in the kingdom of Judah was only of a subsidiary kind. These extraordinary messengers of the Lord only filled there the gaps left by the regular servants of God, the priests and the Levites: the priesthood never became there utterly degenerate, and each lapse was followed by a revival of which the prophets were the vigorous agents. The divine election always vindicated itself, and in the purity of the origin of the priesthood lay the certainty of its continued renewal. On the contrary, the priesthood in the kingdom of Israel had no divine sanction, no promise; it was corrupt in its very source: to reform itself would have been to dissolve itself. The priests there were the mercenary servants of the king, and had a brand upon their own consciences. Hence in the kingdom of Israel the prophets were the regular ministers of God: with their office all stood or fell, and hence they were required to do many things besides what the original conception of the office of a prophet implied-a circumstance from the oversight of which many erroneous notions on the nature of prophecy have sprung. This led to another difference, to which we shall revert below, viz. that in the kingdom of Judah the prophetic office did not, as in Israel, possess a fixed organization and complete construction.
In their labors, as respected their own times, the prophets were strictly bound to the Mosaic law. and not allowed to add to it or to diminish aught from it. What was said in this respect to the whole people (De 4:2; De 13:1) applied also to them. We find, therefore, prophecy always takes its ground on the Mosaic law to which it refers, from which it derives its sanction, and with which it is fully impressed and saturated. There is no chapter in the prophets in which there are not several references to the law. The business of the prophets was to explain it, to lay it to the hearts of the people, and to preserve vital its spirit. It was, indeed, also their duty to point to future reforms, when the ever-living spirit of the law would break its hitherto imperfect form, and make for itself another: thus Jer 3:16 foretells days when the ark of the covenant shall be no more, and (Jer 31:31) days when a new covenant will be made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. But for their own times they never once dreamed of altering any, even the minutest and least essential precept, even as to its form; how much less as to its spirit, which even the Lord himself declares (Mt 5:18) to be immutable and eternal! The passages which some interpreters have alleged as opposed to sacrifices as instituted by the Mosaic law have been misunderstood; they do not denounce sacrifices generally, but only those of the Canaanites, with whom sacrifice was not even a form of true worship. but opposed to the genuine and spiritual service of God.
2. More specifically, the sixteen prophets whose books are in the Canon have that place of honor because they were endowed with the prophetic gift as well as ordinarily (so far as we know) belonging to the prophetic order . There were hundreds of prophets contemporary with each of these sixteen prophets; and no doubt numberless compositions in sacred poetry and numberless moral exhortations were issued from the several schools, but only sixteen books find their place in the Canon. Why is this? Because these sixteen had what their brother collegians had not — the divine call to the office of prophet, and the divine illumination to enlighten them. It was not sufficient to have been taught and trained in preparation for a future call. Teaching and training served as a preparation only. When the schoolmaster's work was done, then, if the instrument was worthy, God's work began. Moses had an external call at the burning bush (Ex 3; Ex 2). The Lord called Samuel so that Eli perceived, and Samuel learned, that it was the Lord who called him (1Sa 3; 1Sa 10). Isa 6:8; Jer 1:5; Eze 2:4; Am 7:15, declare their special mission. Nor was it sufficient for this call to have been made once for all. Each prophetical utterance is the result of a communication of the divine to the human spirit, received either by "vision" (Isa 6:1) or by "the word of the Lord" (Jer 2:1). (See Aids to Faith, essay 3, "On Prophecy.") What, then, are the characteristics of the sixteen prophets thus called and commissioned, and intrusted with the messages of God to his people?
(1.) They were the national poets of Judaea. We have already shown that music and poetry, chants and hymns, were a main part of the studies of the class from which, generally speaking, they were derived. As is natural, we find not only the songs previously specified, but the rest of their compositions, poetical, or breathing the spirit of poetry. Bishop Lowth "esteems the whole book of Isaiah poetical, a few passages excepted, which, if brought together. would not at most exceed the bulk of five or six chapters," "half of the book of Jeremiah," "the greater part of Ezekiel." The rest of the prophets are mainly poetical, but Haggai is "prosaic," and Jonah and Daniel are plain prose (Sacred Poetry, lect. 21). The prophetical style differs from that of books properly called poetical, whose sublimity it all but outvies, only in being less restrained by those external forms which distinguish poetical language from prose, and in introducing more frequently than prose does plays upon words and thoughts. This peculiarity may he explained by the practical tendency of prophetical addresses, which avoid all that is unintelligible, aid studiously introduce what is best calculated for the moment to strike the hearers. The same appears from many other circumstances, e.g. the union of music with prophesying, the demeanor of Saul when among the prophets (1Sa 10:5), Balaam's description of himself (Nu 24:3) as a man whose eyes were opened, who saw the vision of the Almighty, and heard the words of God, the established phraseology to denote the inspiring impulse, viz. "the hand of the Lord was strong upon him" (Eze 3:14; comp. Isa 8:11; 2Ki 3:15), etc. (See § 6, below.)
(2.) They were annalists and historians. A great portion of Isaiah, of Jeremiah, of Daniel, of Jonah, of Haggai, is direct or indirect history.
(3.) They were preachers of patriotism; their patriotism being founded on the religious motive. To the subject of the theocracy, the enemy of his nation was the enemy of God, the traitor to the public weal was a traitor to his God: a denunciation of an enemy was a denunciation of a representative of evil; an exhortation in behalf of Jerusalem was an exhortation in behalf of God's kingdom on earth, "the city of our God, the mountain of holiness, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, the city of the great King" (Ps 48:1-2).
(4.) They were preachers of morals and of spiritual religion. The symbolical teaching of the law had lost much of its effect. Instead of learning the necessity of purity by the legal washings, the majority came to rest in the outward act as in itself sufficient. It was the work, then, of the prophets to hold up before the eves of their countrymen a high and pure morality, not veiled in symbols and acts, but such as none could profess to misunderstand. Thus, in his first chapter, Isaiah contrasts ceremonial observances with spiritual morality: "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them... Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isa 1:14-17). He proceeds to denounce God's judgments on the oppression and covetousness of the rulers, the pride of the women (ch. 3), on grasping, profligacy, iniquity, injustice (ch. 5), and so on throughout. The system of morals put forward by the prophets, if not higher or sterner or purer than that of the law, is more plainly declared, and with greater, because now more needed, vehemence of diction. "Magna fides et grandis aldacia prophetarum," says St. Jerome (In Ezekiel). This was their general characteristic, but that gifts and graces might be dissevered is proved by the cases of Balaam, Jonah, Caiaphas, and the disobedient prophet of Judah.
(5.) They were extraordinary, but yet authorized, exponents of the law. As an instance of this we may take Isaiah's description of a true fast (Isa 58:3-7); Ezekiel's explanation of the sins of the father being visited on the children (ch. 18); Micah's preference of "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God," to "thousands of rams and ten thousands of rivers of oil" (Mic 6:6-8). In these, as in other similar cases (comp. Ho 6:6; Am 5:21), it was the task of the prophets to restore the balance which had been overthrown by the Jews and their teachers dwelling on one side or oil the outer covering of a truth or of a duty, and leaving the other side or the inner meaning out of sight.
(6.) They held, as we have shown above, a pastoral or quasi-pastoral office.
(7.) They were a political power in the state. Strong in the safeguard of their religious character, they were able to serve as a counterpoise to the royal authority when wielded even by an Ahab.
(8.) But the prophets were something more than national poets and annalists, preachers of patriotism, moral teachers, exponents of the law, pastors, and politicians. We have not yet touched upon their most essential characteristic, which is that they were instruments of revealing God's will to man; as in other ways, so, specially, by predicting future events, and, in particular, by foretelling the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the redemption effected by him. There are two chief ways of exhibiting this fact — one is suitable when discoursing with Christians, the other when arguing with unbelievers. To the Christian it is enough to show that the truth of the New Testament and the truthfulness of its authors, and of the Lord himself, are bound up with the truth of the existence of this predictive element in the prophets. To the unbeliever it is necessary to show that facts have verified their predictions.
(a.) In Matthew's Gospel, the first chapter, we find a quotation from the prophet Isaiah, "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel;" and, at the same time, we find a statement that the birth of Christ took place as it did "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet," in those words (Isa 1:22-23). This means that the prophecy was the declaration of God's purpose, and that the circumstances of the birth of' Christ were the fulfilment of that purpose. Then, either the predictive element exists in the book of the prophet Isaiah, or the authority of the evangelist Matthew must be given up. The same evangelist testifies to the same prophet having "spoken of" John the Baptist (Joh 3:3) in words which he quotes from Isa 40:3. He says (Joh 4:13-15) that Jesus came and dwelt in Capernaum "that" other words "spoken by" the same prophet (Joh 9:1) "might be fulfilled." He says (Joh 8:17) that Jesus did certain acts "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet" (Isa 53:4). He says (Joh 12:17) that Jesus acted in a particular manner "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet" in words quoted from Isa 42:1. Then, if we believe Matthew, we must believe that in the pages of the prophet Isaiah there was predicted that, which Jesus some seven hundred years afterwards fulfilled. This conclusion cannot be escaped by pressing the words ἵνα πληρωθῆ , for if they do not mean that certain things were done in order that the divine predestination might be accomplished, which predestination was already declared by the prophet, they must mean that Jesus Christ knowingly moulded his acts so as to be in accordance with what was said in an ancient book which in reality had no reference to him, a thing which is entirely at variance with the character drawn of him by Matthew. and which would make him a conscious impostor, inasmuch as he himself appeals to the prophecies. Further, it would imply (as in Mt 1:22) that God himself contrived certain events (as those connected with the birth of Christ), not in order that they might be in accordance with his will, but in order that they might be agreeable to the declarations of a certain book- than which nothing could well be more absurd.
But further, we have not only the evidence of the evangelist; we have the evidence of the Lord himself. He declares (Mt 13:14) that in the Jews of his age "is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith —" (Isa 6:9). He says (Mt 15:7), "Esaias well prophesied of them" (Isa 19:13). Then, if we believe our Lord's sayings and the record of them, we must believe in prediction as existing in the prophet Isaiah. This prophet, who is cited between fifty and sixty times, may be taken as a sample; but the same argument might be brought forward with respect to Jeremiah (Mt 2:18; Heb 8:8), Daniel (Mt 24:15), Hosea (Mt 2:15; Ro 9:25), Joel (Ac 2:17), Amos (Ac 7:42; Ac 15:16), Jonah (Mt 12:40), Micah (Mt 12:7), Habakkuk (Ac 13:41), Haggai (Heb 12:26), Zechariah (Mt 21:5; Mr 14:27; Joh 19:37), Malachi (Mt 11:10; Mr 1:2; Lu 7:27). With this evidence for so many of the prophets, it would be idle to cavil with respect to Ezekiel, Obadiah, Nahum, Zephaniah; the more so as "the prophets" are frequently spoken of together (Mt 2:23; Ac 13:40; Ac 15:15) as authoritative. The Psalms are quoted no less than seventy times, and very frequently as being predictive.
(b.) The argument with the unbeliever does not admit of being brought to an issue so concisely. Here it is necessary
 to point out the existence of certain declarations as to future events, the probability of which was not discernible by human sagacity at the time that, the declarations were made;
 to show that certain events did afterwards take place corresponding with those declarations;
 to show that a chance coincidence is not an adequate hypothesis on which to account for that correspondence. SEE PROPHECY.
Dr. Davidson pronounces it as "now commonly admitted that the essential part of Biblical prophecy does not lie in predicting contingent events, but in divining the essentially religious in the course of history... In no prophecy can it be shown that the literal predicting of distant historical events is contained... . In conformity with the analogy of prophecy generally, special predictions concerning Christ do not appear in the Old Testament." Dr. Davidson must mean that this is "now commonly admitted" by writers like himself, who, following Eichhorn, resolve "the prophet's delineations of the future" into, "in essence, nothing but forebodings — efforts of the spiritual eye to bring up before itself the distinct form of the future. The prevision of the prophet is intensified presentiment." Of course, if the powers of the prophets were simply "forebodings" and "presentiments" of the human spirit in "its preconscious region," they could not do more than make indefinite guesses about the future. But this is not the Jewish nor the Christian theory of prophecy. See Basil (In Esai. c. iii), Chrysostom (Hom. 22 t. v, 137, ed. 1612), Clem. Alex. (Strom. lib. ii), Eusebius (Dem. Evang. v, 132, ed. 1544), and Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. p. 224, ed. 1636). See Suicer, s.v. προφήτης. The view commonly taken of the prophets is, indeed, that they were mere predictors of future events; but this view is one-sided and too narrow; though, on the other hand, we must beware of expanding too much the acceptation of the term prophet. Not to mention those who, like Hendewerk, in the introduction to his Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, identify the notion of a prophet with that of an honest and pious man, vet we see from the above considerations that the conception of those is likewise too wide who place the essential feature of a prophet in his divine inspiration. That this does not meet the whole subject appears from Nu 12:6 sq.. where Moses, who enjoyed divine inspiration in its highest grade, is represented as differing from those called prophets in a stricter sense, and as standing in contrast with them. Divine inspiration is only the general basis of the prophetic office, to which other elements must be added, especially the gift of that inspiration in a formal manner and for a specific purpose. This will become still more clear from the considerations adduced under the next heads.
IV. Test of the Prophetic Character. — As Moses had foretold, a host of false prophets arose in later times among the people, who promised prosperity without repentance, and preached the Gospel without the law. The writings of the prophets are full of complaints of the mischief done by these impostors. Jeremiah significantly calls them "prophets of the deceit of their own heart" — i.e. men who followed the suggestions of their own fancy in prophesying (Jer 23; Jer 26 comp. ver. 16, and ch. 14:14). All their practices prove the great influence which true prophetism had acquired among the people of Israel. But how were the people to distinguish between true and false prophets? This is decided partly by positive or negative criteria, and partly by certain general marks.
1. In the law concerning prophets (De 18:20; comp. 13:7-9) the following enactments are contained:
(1.) The prophet who speaks in the name of other gods — i.e. professes to have his revelations from a god different from Jehovah — is to be considered as false, and to be punished capitally; and this even though his predictions should come to pass.
(2.) The same punishment is to be inflicted on him who speaks in the name of the true God, but whose predictions are not accomplished.
These enactments established a peculiar right of the prophets. He who prophesied in the name of the true God was, even when he foretold calamity, entitled to be tolerated, until it happened that a prediction of his failed of accomplishment. He might then be imprisoned, but could not be put to death, as instanced in Jer 26:8-16, who is apprehended and arraigned, but acquitted: "Then, said the princes and the people unto the priests and the prophets, This man is not worthy to die, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God." Ahab is by false prophets encouraged to attack Ramoth-gilead, but Micaiah prophesied him no good; on which the king becomes angry, and orders the prophet to be confined (1Ki 22:1-27): "Take Micaiah and put him in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction, and with water of affliction, until I come in peace." Micaiah answers (ver. 28), "If thou return at all in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me." Until the safe return of the king, Micaiah is to remain in prison; after that, he shall be put to death. The prophet agrees to it, and the king goes up to Ramoth-gilead, but is slain in the battle.
(3.) From the above two criteria of a true prophet flows the third, that his addresses must be in strict accordance with the law. Whoever departs from it cannot be a true prophet, for it is impossible that the Lord should contradict himself.
(4.) In the above is also founded the fourth criterion that a true prophet must not promise prosperity without repentance; and that he is a false prophet, "of the deceit of his own heart," who does not reprove the sins of the people, and who does not inculcate on them the doctrines of divine justice and retribution.
2. In addition to these negative criteria there were positive ones to procure authority to true prophets. First of all, it must be assumed that the prophets themselves received, along with the divine revelations, assurance that these were really divine. Any true communion with the Holy Spirit affords the assurance of its divine nature, and the prophets could, therefore, satisfy themselves of their divine mission. There was nothing to mislead and delude them in this respect, for temporal goods were not bestowed upon them with the gift of prophesying. Their own native disposition was often much averse to this calling, and could be only conquered by the Lord forcibly impelling them, as appears from Jer 20:8-9: "Since I spake, the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, but his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Now, when the prophets themselves were convinced of their divine mission, they could in various ways prove it to others whom they were called on to enlighten.
(1.) To those who had any sense of truth, the Spirit of God gave evidence that the prophecies were divinely inspired. This testimonium Spiritus Sancti is the chief argument for the reality of a divine revelation; and he who is susceptible of it does not, indeed, disregard the other proofs suiting the wants of unimproved minds, but lays less stress on them.
(2.) The prophets themselves utter their firm conviction that they act and speak by divine authority, not of their own accord (comp. the often recurring phrase גאֻם יהָֹוה, "a prophecy of Jehovah," Jer 26:12, etc.). Their pious life bore testimony to their being worthy of a nearer communion with God, and defended them from the suspicion of intentional deception; their sobriety of mind distinguished them from all fanatics, and defended them from the suspicion of self-delusion; their fortitude in suffering for truth proved that they had their commission from no human authority.
(3.) Part of the predictions of the prophets referred to proximate events, and their accomplishment was divine evidence of their divine origin. Whoever had been once favored with such a testimonial, his authority was established for his whole life, as instanced in Samuel. Of him it is said (1Sa 3:19): "The Lord was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground (i.e. fulfilled them); and all Israel knew (from this) that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord." Of the divine mission of Isaiah no doubt could be entertained after, for instance. his prophecies of the overthrow of Sennacherib before Jerusalem had been fulfilled. The credentials of the divine mission of Ezekiel were certified when his prediction was accomplished, that Zedekiah should be brought to Babylon, but should not see it, for the king was made prisoner and blinded (Eze 12:12-13); they were further confirmed by the fulfilment of his prediction concerning the destruction of the city (ch. 24). Jeremiah's claims were authenticated by the fulfilment of his prediction that Shallum, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, should die in his prison, and see his native country no more (Jer 22:11-12).
(4.) Sometimes the divine mission of the prophets was also proved by miracles; but this occurred only at important crises, when the existence of the kingdom of Israel was in jeopardy, as in the age of Elijah and Elisha. Miracles are mentioned as criteria of true prophets (De 13:2), still with this caution, that they should not be trusted alone, but that the people should inquire whether the negative criteria were extant.
(5.) Those prophets whose divine commission had been sufficiently proved bore testimony to the divine mission of others. It has been observed above that there was a certain gradation among the prophets; the principals of the colleges of prophets procured authority to the "sons" of prophets. Thus the deeds of Elijah and Elisha at the same time authenticated the hundreds of prophets whose superiors they were. Concerning the relation of the true prophets to each other, the passage 2Ki 2:9 is remarkable; Elisha says to Elijah, "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." Here Elisha, as the first-born of Elijah in a spiritual sense, and standing to him in the same relation as Joshua to Moses, asks for a double portion of his spiritual inheritance, alluding to the law concerning the hereditary right of the lawfully begotten first-born son (De 21:17). This case supposes that other prophets also of the kingdom of Israel took portions of the fulness of the spirit of Elijah. It is plain, then, that only a few prophets stood in immediate communion with God, while that of the remaining was formed by mediation. The latter were spiritually incorporated in the former, and, on the ground of this relation, actions performed by Elisha, or through the instrumentality of one of his pupils, are at once ascribed to Elijah, e.g. the anointing of Hazael to be king over Syria (1Ki 19:15; comp. 2Ki 8:13); the anointing of Jehu to be king over Israel (1Ki 19:16; comp. 2Ki 9:1 sq.); the writing of the letter to Joram, etc. Thus in a certain sense it may be affirmed that Elijah was in his time the only prophet of the kingdom of Israel. Similarly of Moses it is recorded, during his passage through the desert, that a portion of his spirit was conveyed to the seventy elders (Nu 11:17). The history of the Christian Church itself offers analogies; look, e.g. at the relation of the second-class Reformers to Luther and Calvin.
(6.) It hardly needs to be mentioned that before a man could be a prophet he must be converted. This clearly appears in the case of Isaiah, "whose iniquity was taken away and his sin purged" previous to his entering on his mission to the people of the covenant.
For a single momentary inspiration, however, the mere beginning of spiritual life sufficed, as instanced in Balaam and Saul.
3. As to prophecy in its circumscribed sense, or the foretelling of future events by the prophets, some expositors would explain all predictions of special events; while others assert that no prediction contains anything but general promises or threatenings, and that the prophets knew nothing of the particular manner in which their predictions might be realized. Both these classes deviate from the correct view of prophecy: the former often resort to the most arbitrary interpretations, and the latter are opposed by a mass of facts against which they are unable successfully to contend: e.g. when Ezekiel foretells (Eze 12:12) that Zedekiah would try to break through the walls of the city and to escape, but that he would be seized, blinded, and taken to Babylon. The frailty of the people, under the Old lest., required external evidence of the real connection of the prophets with God, and the predictions of particular forthcoming events were to them σημεῖα, signs. These were the more indispensable to them, because the ancients generally, and the Orientals in particular, showed the greatest tendency towards the exploration of futurity, which tended to foster superstition and forward idolatry. All other methods of knowing future events by necromancy, conjuration, passing through the fire. etc., having been strictly forbidden (De 18:10-11), it might be expected that the deep-rooted craving for the knowledge of forthcoming events would be gratified in some other and nobler manner. The success of a prophet depended on the gift of special knowledge of futurity; this, it is true, was granted comparatively to only few, but in the authority thus obtained all those shared who were likewise invested with the prophetic character. It was the seal impressed on true prophecy, as opposed to false. From 1Sa 9:6, it appears that, to inspire uncultivated minds with the sense of divine truths, the prophets stooped occasionally to disclose things of common life, using this as the means to reach a higher mark. On the same footing with definite predictions stand miracles and tokens, which prophets of the highest rank, as Elijah and Isaiah, volunteered or granted. These also were requisite to confirm the feeble faith of the people; but Ewald justly remarks that with the true prophets they never appear as the chief point; they only assist and accompany prophecy, but are not its object, not the truth itself; which supersedes them as soon as it gains sufficient strength and influence.
Some interpreters, misunderstanding passages like Jer 18:8; Jer 26:13, hare asserted, with Dr. Koster, (p. 226 sq.), that all prophecies were conditional; and have even maintained that their revocability distinguished the true predictions (Weissagung) from soothsaying (Wahrsagung). But beyond all doubt, when the prophet denounces the divine judgments, he proceeds on the assumption that the people will not repent, an assumption which lie knows from God to be true. Were the people to repent, the prediction would fail; but because they will not, it is uttered absolutely. It does not follow, however, that the prophet's warnings and exhortations are useless. These serve "for a witness against them;" and besides, amid the ruin of the mass, individuals might be saved. Viewing prophecies as conditional predictions nullifies them. The Mosaic criterion (De 18:22), that he was a false prophet who predicted "things which followed not nor came to pass," would then be of no value, since recourse might always be had to the excuse that the case had been altered by the fulfilment of the condition. The fear of introducing fatalism, if the prophecies are not taken in a conditional sense, is unfounded; for God's omniscience, his foreknowledge, does not establish fatalism, and from divine omniscience simply is the prescience of the prophets to be derived. The prophets feel themselves so closely united to God that the words of Jehovah are given as their own, and that to them is often ascribed what God does, as slaying and reviving (Ho 6:5), rooting out nations and restoring them (Jer 1:10; Jer 18:7; Eze 32:18; Eze 43:3); which proves their own consciousness to have been entirely absorbed into that of God.
V. The Prophetic State of Inspiration. — WE learn from Holy Scripture that it was by the agency of the Spirit of God that the prophets received the divine communication. Thus, on the appointment of the seventy elders, "'The Lord said, I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them... And the Lord... took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; and it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied and did not cease... And Moses said Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them" (Nu 11:17,25,29). Here we see that what made the seventy prophesy was their being endued with the Lord's Spirit by the Lord himself. So it is the Spirit of the Lord which made Saul (1Sa 10:6) and his messengers (19:20) prophesy. Thus Peter assures us that "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake, moved (φερόμενοι) by the Holy Ghost" (2Pe 1:21), while false prophets are described as those "who speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord" (Jer 23:16), "who prophesy out of their own hearts,... who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing" (Eze 13:2-3). Hence the emphatic declarations of the Great Prophet of the Church that he did not speak of himself (Joh 7:17, etc.). The prophet held an intermediate position in communication between God and man. God communicated with him by his Spirit, and he, having received this communication, was "the spokesman" of God to man (comp. Ex 7:1; Ex 4:16). But the means by which the Divine Spirit communicated with the human spirit, and the conditions of the human spirit under which the divine communications were received, have not been clearly declared to us. They are, however, indicated. On the occasion of the sedition of Miriam and Aaron, we read, "And the Lord said, Hear now my words: It there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house: with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold" (Nu 12:6-8). Here we have an exhaustive division of the different ways in which the revelations of God are made to man: 1. Direct declaration and manifestation — "I will speak mouth to mouth, apparently, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold;" 2. Vision; 3. Dream. It is indicated that, at least at this time, the vision and the dream were the special means of conveying a revelation to a prophet, while the higher form of direct declaration and manifestation was reserved for the more highly favored Moses. Joel's prophecy appears to make the same division, "Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions," these being the two methods in which the promise, "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy," is to be carried out (Joe 2:28). Of Daniel we are told that "he had understanding in all visions and dreams" (Da 1:17). Can these phases of the prophetic state be distinguished from each other? and in what did they consist?
According to the theory of Philo and the Alexandrian school, the prophet was in a state of entire unconsciousness at the time that he was under the influence of divine inspiration, "for the human understanding," says Philo, "takes its departure on the arrival of the Divine Spirit, and on the removal of the latter again returns to its home, for the mortal must not dwell with the immortal" (Quis Rer. Div. Hoer. 1, 511). Balaam is described by him as an unconscious instrument through whom God spoke (De Vita Mosis, lib. 1, vol. 2, p. 124). Josephus makes Balaam excuse himself to Balak on the same principle: "When the Spirit of God seizes us, it utters whatsoever sounds and words it pleases, without any knowledge on our part,... for when it has come into us, there is nothing in us which remains our own" (Ant. 4:6, 5). This theory identifies Jewish prophecy in all essential points with the heathen μαντική, or divination, as distinct from προφητεία, or interpretation. Montanism adopted the same view: "Defendimus, in causa novae propheti e, gratiae exstasin, id est amentiam, convenire. In spiritu enim homo constitutus, praesertim cum gloriam Dei conspicit, vel cum per ipsum Deus loquitur, necesse est excidat sensu, obumbratus scilicet virtute divina; de quo inter nos et Psychicos (catholicos) questio est" (Tertullian, Adv. Marcion. 4:22). According to the belief, then, of the heathen, of the Alexandrian Jews, and of the Montanists, the vision of the prophet was seen while he was in a state of ecstatic unconsciousness, and the enunciation of the vision was made by him in the same state. The fathers of the Church opposed the Montanist theory with great unanimity. In Eusebius's History (v, 17) we read that Miltiades wrote a book Περὶ τοῦ μὴ δεῖν προφήτην ἐν ἐκστάσει λαλεῖν. St. Jerome writes: "Non loquitur propheta ἐν ἐκστάσει, ut Montanus et Prisca Maximillaque delirant, sed quod prophetat liber est visionis intelligentis universa quae loquitur" (Prolog. in Nahum). Again: ' Neque vero ut Montanus cum insanis fenminis somniat, prophetae in ecstasi locuti sunt ut nescierint quid loquerentur, et cum alios erudirent ipsi ignorarent quid dicerent" (Prolog. in Esai.). Origen (Contr. Celsum, 7:4) and St. Basil (Commentary on Isaiah, Prooem. c. 5) contrast the prophet with the soothsayer, on the ground of the latter being deprived of his senses. St. Chrysostom draws out the contrast: Τοῦτο γὰρ μάντεως ἴδιον, τὸ ἐξεστηκέναι, τὸ ἀνάγχην ὑπομένειν, τὸ ὠθεῖσθαι, τὸ ἕλκεσθαι, τὸ σύρεσθαι éσπερ μαινόμενον. ῾Ο δὲ προφήτης οὐχ οὕτως, ἀλλὰ μετὰ διανοίας νηφούσης καὶ σωφρονούσης καταστάσεως, καὶ εἰδώς ἃ φθέγγεται, φησὶν ἃπαντα· éστε καὶ πρὸ τῆς ἐκβάσεως κἀντεῦθην γνώριζε τὸν μάντιν καὶ τὸν προφήτην (Hom. 29 in Epist. ad Corinth.). At the same time, while drawing the distinction sharply between heathen soothsaying and Montanist prophesying in the one side, and Hebrew prophecy on the other, the fathers use expressions so strong as almost to represent the prophets to be passive instruments acted on by the Spirit of God. Thus it is that they describe them as musical instruments — the pipe (Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christianis, c. ix; Clem. Alex. Cohort. ad Gent. c. i), the lyre (Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Graec. c. viii; Ephraem Syr. Rhythm. 29; Chrysostom, Ad Pop. Antioch. Haom. i, t. ii), or as pens (St. Greg. Magn. Praef: in Aaor. in Job). Expressions such as these (many of which are quoted by Dr. Lee, On Inspiration, Appendix () must be set against the passages which were directed against the Montanists. Nevertheless, there is a very appreciable difference between their view and that of Tertullian and Philo. Which is most in accordance with the indications of Holy Scripture?
It does not seem possible to draw any very precise distinction between the prophetic "dream" and the prophetic "vision." In the case of Abraham (Ge 15:1) and of Daniel (Da 7:1), they seem to melt into each other. In both the external senses are at rest, reflection is quiescent, and intuition energizes. The action of the ordinary faculties is suspended in the one case by natural, in the other by supernatural or extraordinary causes (see Lee, Inspiration, p. 173). The state into which the prophet was, occasionally, at least, thrown by the ecstasy, or vision, or trance, is described poetically in the book of Job (Job 4:13-16; Job 33:15), and more plainly in the book of Daniel. In the case of Daniel, we find first a deep sleep (Da 8:18; Da 10:9) accompanied by terror (Da 8:17; Da 10:8). Then he is raised upright (Da 8:18) on his hands and knees, and then on his feet (Da 10:10-11). He then receives the divine revelation (Da 8:19; Da 10:12). After this he falls to the ground in a swoon (Da 10:15,17); he is faint, sick, and astonished (Da 8:27). Here, then, is an instance of the ecstatic state; nor is it confined to the Old Test., though we do not find it in the New Test accompanied by such violent effects upon the body. At the Transfiguration, the disciples fell on their face, being overpowered by the divine glory, and were restored, like Daniel, by the touch of Jesus' hand. Peter fell into a trance (ἔκστασις) before he received his vision, instructing him as to the admission of the Gentiles (Ac 10:10; Ac 11:5). Paul was in a trance (ἐν ἐκστασει) when he was commanded to devote himself to the conversion of the Gentiles (Ac 22:17), and when he was caught up into the third heaven (2Co 12:1). John was probably in the same state (ἐν πνεύματι) when he received the message to the seven churches (Re 1:10). The prophetic trance, then, must be acknowledged as a scriptural account of the state in which the prophets and other inspired persons, sometimes, at least, received divine revelations. It would seem, in such particular cases, to have been of the following nature:
(1.) The bodily senses were closed to external objects as in deep sleep; (2.) The reflective and discursive faculty was still and inactive; (3.) The spiritual faculty (πνεῦμα) was awakened to the highest state of energy.
Hence it is that revelations in trances are described by the prophets as "seen" or "heard" by them, for the spiritual faculty energizes by immediate perception on the part of the inward sense, not by inference and thought. Thus Isaiah "saw the Lord sitting" (Isa 6:1). Zechariah "lifted up his eyes and saw" (Zec 2:1); "the word of the Lord which Micah saw" (Mic 1:1); "the wonder which Habakkuk did see" (Hab 1:1). "Peter saw heaven opened... and there came a voice to him" (Ac 10:11). Paul was "in a trance, and saw him saying" (Ac 22:18). John "heard a great voice... and saw seven golden candlesticks" (Re 1:12). Hence it is, too, that the prophets' visions are unconnected and fragmentary, inasmuch as they are not the subject of the reflective, but of the perceptive faculty. They described what they saw and heard, not what they had themselves thought out and systematized. Hence, too, succession in time is disregarded or unnoticed. The subjects of the vision being, to the prophets' sight, in juxtaposition or enfolding each other, some in the foreground, some in the background, are necessarily abstracted from the relations of time. Hence, too, the imagery with which the prophetic writings are colored, and the dramatic cast in which they are moulded; these peculiarities resulting, as we have already said, in a necessary obscurity and difficulty of interpretation.
But though it must be allowed that Scripture language seems to point out the state of dream and of trance, or ecstasy, as a condition in which the human instrument occasionally received the divine communications, it does not follow that all the prophetic revelations were thus made. We must acknowledge the state of trance in such passages as Isaiah 6 (called ordinarily the vision of Isaiah), as Ezekiel 1 (called the vision of Ezekiel), as Da 7; Da 8; Da 10; Da 11; Da 12 (called the visions of Daniel), as Zec 1; Zec 4; Zec 5; Zec 6 (called the visions of Zechariah), as Acts 10 (called the vision of St. Peter), as 2 Corinthians 12 (called the vision of St. Paul), and similar instances, which are indicated by the language used. But it does not seem true to say, with Hengstenberg, that "the difference between these prophecies and the rest is a vanishing one, and if we but possess the power and the ability to look more deeply into them, the marks of the vision may be discerned" (Christology, 4:417). This view is advocated also by Velthusen (De Optica Rermum Futuraruum Descriptione), Jahn (Einleit. in die gottlichen Biicher des A. B.), Tholuck (Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen). St. Paul distinguishes "revelations" from "visions" (2Co 12:1). In the books of Moses "speaking mouth to mouth" is contrasted with "visions and dreams" (Nu 12:8). It is true that in this last-quoted passage "visions and dreams" alone appear to be attributed to the prophet, while "speaking mouth to mouth" is reserved for Moses. But when Moses was dead, the cause of this difference would cease. During the era of prophecy there were none nearer to God, none with whom he would. we may suppose, communicate more openly than the prophets. We should expect, then, that they would be the recipients, not only of visions in the state of dream or ecstasy, but also of the direct revelations which are called speaking mouth to mouth. The greater part of the divine communications we may suppose to have been thus made to the prophets in their waking and ordinary state, while the visions were exhibited to them either in the state of sleep or in the state of ecstasy. "The more ordinary mode through which the word of the Lord, as far as we can trace, came, was through a divine impulse given to the prophet's own thoughts" (Stanley, p. 426). Hence it follows that. while the fathers in their opposition to Montanism and μανία were pushed somewhat too far in their denial of the ecstatic state, they were yet perfectly exact in their descriptions of the condition under which the greater part of the prophetic revelations were received and promulgated. No truer description has been given of them than that of Hippolytus and that of St. Basil: Οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἰδίας δυνάμεως ἐφθέγγοντο, οὐδὲ ἃπερ αὐτοὶ ἐβούλοντο ταῦτα ἐκήρυττον, ἀλλὰ πρῶτον μὲν διὰ τοῦ Λόγου ἐσοφίζοντο ὀρθῶς, ἔπειτα δἰ ὁραμάτων προεδιδάσκοντο τὰ μέλλοντα καλῶς· ειθ᾿ οὕτω πεπεισμένοι ἔλεγον ταῦτα ἃπερ αὐτοῖς ην μόνοις ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένα (Hippol. De Antichristo, c. ii). Πῶς προεφήτευον α‰ καθαραὶ καὶ διαυγεῖς ψυχαί; οἱονεὶ κάτοπτρα γινόμενα τῆς θείας ἐνεργείας, τὴν ἔμφασιν ῥανὴν καὶ ἀσύγχυτον καὶ οὐδὲν ἐπιθολουμένην ἐκ τῶν παθῶν τῆς ταρκὸς ἐπεδείκνυντο· πᾶσι μὲν γὰρ πάρεστι τὸ ῞Αγιον Πνεῦμα (St. Basil, Conm. in Esti. Procem.). The state of ecstasy, though ranking high above the ordinary sensual existence, is still not the highest, as appears from Numbers 12, and the example of Christ, whom we never find in an ecstatical state. To the prophets, however, it was indispensable, on account of the frailty of themselves and the people. The forcible working upon them by the Spirit of God would not have been required, if their general life had already been altogether holy; for which reason we also find ecstasy to manifest itself the stronger the more the general life was ungodly; as, for instance, in Balaam, when the Spirit of God came upon him (Nu 24:4,16), and in Saul, who throws himself on the ground, tearing his clothes from his body. With a prophet whose spiritual attainments were those of an Isaiah, such results are not to be expected. As regards the people, their spiritual obtuseness must be considered as very great to have rendered necessary such vehement excitations as the addresses of the prophets caused.
Had the prophets a full knowledge of that which they predicted? It follows from what we have already said that in many cases they had not, and could not have. They were the "spokesmen" of God (Ex 7:1), the "mouth" by which his words were uttered, or they were enabled to view, and empowered to describe, pictures presented to their spiritual intuition; but there are no grounds for believing that, contemporaneously with this miracle, there was wrought another miracle enlarging the understanding of the prophet so as to grasp the whole of the divine counsels which he was gazing into, or which he was the instrument of enunciating. We should not expect it beforehand; and we have the testimony of the prophets themselves (Da 12:8; Zec 4:5), and of St. Peter (1Pe 1:10) to the fact that they frequently did not fully comprehend them. The passage in Peter's epistle is very instructive: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." It is here declared (1) that the Holy Ghost through the prophet, or the prophet by the Holy Ghost, testified of Christ's sufferings and ascension, and of the institution of Christianity; (2) that after having uttered predictions on those subjects, the minds of the prophets occupied themselves in searching into the full meaning of the words that they had uttered; (3) that they were then divinely informed that their predictions were not to find their completion until the last days, and that they themselves were instruments for declaring good things that should come not to their own but to a future generation. This is exactly what the prophetic state above described would lead us to expect. While the divine communication is received, the human instrument is simply passive. He sees or hears by his spiritual intuition or perception, and declares what he has seen or heard. Then the reflective faculty, which had been quiescent but never so overpowered as to be destroyed, awakens to the consideration of the message or vision received, and it strives earnestly to understand it, and more especially to look at the revelation as in instead of out of time. The result is a comparative failure, but this failure is softened by the divine intimation that the time is not vet. The two questions. What did the prophet understand by this prophecy? and What was the meaning of this prophecy? are somewhat different in the ultimate estimation of every one who believes that "the Holy Ghost spake by the prophets," or who considers it possible that he did so speak. It is on this principle rather than as it is explained by Dr. M'Caul (Aids to Faith) that the prophecy of Ho 11:1 is to be interpreted. Hosea, we may well believe, understood in his own words no more than a reference to the historical fact that the children of Israel came out of Egypt. But Hosea was not the author of the prophecy — he was the instrument by which it was promulgated. The Holy Spirit Intended something further, and what this something was he informs us by the evangelist Matthew (Mt 2:15). The two facts of the Israelites being led out of Egypt and of Christ's return from Egypt appear to Prof. Jowett so distinct that the reference by Matthew to the prophet is to him inexplicable except on the hypothesis of a mistake on the part of the evangelist (see Jowett, Essay on the Interpretation of Scripture). A deeper insight into Scripture shows that "the Jewish people themselves, their history, their ritual, their government, all present one grand prophecy of the future Redeemer" (Lee, p. 107). Consequently "Israel" is one of the forms naturally taken in the prophetic vision by the idea "Messiah." It does not follow from the above, however, that the prophets had no intelligent comprehension of their ordinary vaticinators. These, so far at least as the primary reference is concerned, were plain to their own mind, although the future and full significance was of necessity dim and imperfectly apprehended. Time, in the order of providence, is God's own best expounder of prophecy.
While the prophets were under the influence of inspiration, the scenery might produce deep, absorbing, or elevated emotion, which would sometimes greatly affect their physical system (Ge 15:12; Nu 24:16; Da 10:8; Eze 1:28; Re 1:17). Still they had an intelligent consciousness of what they were describing, they retained their distinct mental faculties; they did not utter frantic ravings like the prophets of Baal. Undoubtedly, as the prophecies are a revelation from God, the prophets well understood, at least in a general way, the predictions they uttered; but they did not necessarily testify or know anything respecting the time when the events predicted should happen (Da 12:8-9; 1Pe 1:10-12). Occasionally even this was revealed to them (Jer 2:10). The symbols which were often exhibited to the prophets they described as they came before them in succession, and in some instances they were subsequently favored with a more full and particular explanation of the scenery which passed before them (Eze 37:11). Though the prophetic office was generally permanent, it need not, and should not, be supposed that at all times and on all occasions the prophets spoke and acted under the special aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit. So much was not true of even the apostles of Christ. It is enough that at all due times, and in appropriate circumstances, they were specially guided and aided by the Spirit of God. Nor is it necessary to assume that all the prophets were endowed with miraculous powers. Such was not the case even with Christian prophets (1Co 12:10). SEE INSPIRATION.
VI. Form and Peculiarities of the Prophetic Utterances. —
1. Verbal Modes of Delivery. — Usually the prophets promulgated their visions and announcements in public places before the congregated people. Still some portions of the prophetic books, as the entire second part of Isaiah and the description of the new Temple (Ezekiel 40-48), probably were never communicated orally. In other cases the prophetic addresses first delivered orally were next, when committed to writing, revised and improved. Especially the books of the lesser prophets consist, for the greater part, not of separate predictions, independent of each other, but form, as they now are, a whole — that is, they give the quintessence of the prophetic labors of their authors. In this case it is certain that the authors themselves caused the collection to be made. But it is so likewise in some cases where their books really consist of single declarations, and in others it is at least highly probable. Further particulars concerning the manner in which prophetic rolls were collected and published we have only respecting Jeremiah, who, being in prison, called Baruch "to write from his mouth his predictions, and to read them in the ears of the people" (Jer 38:28). There is evidence that the later prophets sedulously read the writings of the earlier, and that a prophetic canon existed before the present was formed. The predictions of Jeremiah throughout rest on the writings of earlier prophets, as Kiiper has established (in his feremias Librorum Sacrorum Interpres atque Vindlex, Berlin, 1837). Zechariah explicitly alludes to writings of former prophets; "to the words which the Lord has spoken to earlier prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity" (Zec 1:4; Zec 7:7,12). In all probability we have complete those predictions which were committed to writing; at least the proofs which Ewald gives (p. 43 sq.) for his opinion, of prophecies having been lost, do not stand trial. The words "as the Lord hath said," in Joe 2:32, refer to the predictions of Joel himself. In Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 nothing is introduced from a lost prophetic roll, but Isaiah borrows from Micah. Hosea alludes (Ho 8:12), not to some unknown work, but to the Pentateuch. In Isa 15; Isa 16 the prophet repeats, not another's prediction, but his own, previously delivered, to which he adds a supplement. Obadiah and Jeremiah do not avail themselves of the written address of a former prophet, but Jeremiah makes the prophecy of Obadiah the groundwork of his own. The opinion that in Isa 56:10; Isa 57:11, there was inserted, unaltered, a long remnant of an older roll is founded on erroneous views respecting the time of its composition. The same holds good of Isaiah 24, where Ewald would find remnants of several older rolls. The very circumstance that in the prophets there nowhere occurs a tenable ground for maintaining that they referred to rolls lost and unknown to us, but that they often allude to writings which we know and possess, clearly proves that there is no reason for supposing, with Ewald, that a great number of prophetic compositions have been lost, "and that of a large tree, only a few blossoms have reached our time." In consequence of the prophets being considered as organs of God, much care was bestowed on the preservation of their publications. Ewald himself cannot refrain from observing (p. 56), "We have in Jer 26:1-19 a clear proof of the exact knowledge which the better classes of the people had of all that had, a hundred years before, happened to a prophet — of his words, misfortunes, and accidents."
2. Symbolic Actions. — In the midst of the prophetic declarations symbolic actions are often mentioned which the prophets had to perform. The opinions of interpreters on these are divided. Most interpreters hold that they always, at least generally, were really done; others assert that they had existence only in the mind of the prophets, and formed part of their visions. SEE HOSEA. Another symbolic action of Jeremiah prefigures the people's destruction. He says (Jer 8:1-10) he had been by the Lord directed to get a linen girdle, to put it on his loins, to undertake a long tour to the Euphrates, and to hide the girdle there in a hole of the rock. He does so, returns, and after many days the Lord again orders him to take the girdle from the place where it was hidden, but "the girdle was marred and good for nothing." In predicting the destruction of Babylon and a general war (Jer 25:12-38), he receives from the Lord a wine-cup, to cause a number of kings of various nations, among whom the sword would be sent, to drink from it till they should be overcome. He then goes with this cup to the kings of Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Media, and many other countries. When the prophet Ezekiel receives his commission and instructions to prophesy against the rebellious people of Israel, a roll of a book is presented to him, which he eats by the direction of the Lord (Eze 2:9; Eze 3; Eze 2; Eze 3). He is next ordered to lie before the city of Jerusalem on his left side three hundred and ninety days; and when he had accomplished them, on his right side forty days. He must not turn from one side to the other, and he is ordered to bake with dung of man the bread which he eats during this time (Eze 4:4,8,12). Isaiah is ordered to walk naked and barefoot, for a sign upon Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa 20:2-3). But, however we may understand these directions, we cannot refer all symbolic actions to internal intuition; at least, of a false prophet we have a sure example of an externally performed symbolic action (1Ki 22:11), and the false prophets always aped the true ones (comp. Jer 19:1 sq.). These undoubted instances of a literal action warrant the presumption that in the other cases likewise there was a substantial fact as the basis of a spiritual symbolism. SEE VISION.
In the case of visions the scenery passed before their mind, something like a panoramic view of a landscape, gradually unfolding, in symbolical imagery, forms of glory or of gloom; accompanied with actions of a corresponding character, not unfrequently exhibiting, as in actual occurrence, the future and distant events. The prophets occasionally beheld themselves as actors in the symbolical scenery. In the visionary pageant many objects would appear to be grouped, or lying near together, which were in fact separated by considerable intervals of time; so that it is not to be expected that the prophets would describe what they saw in their connections and relations. SEE SYMBOL.
3. Prophetic Style and Diction. — The idea of prophecy as anticipated history has given rise to many erroneous views of prophetic language. No prophecy can be rightly interpreted which does not illustrate the name of God in the elements of his character, the principles of his government, his purposes of mercy and judgment towards men. The human race presents the only proper object of moral treatment. When judgments or blessings are announced upon states and kingdoms, to have respect to the territory rather than the inhabitants is to merge the spiritual in the natural. The promises which are associated with Mount Zion, and the threatenings uttered against Edom, belong not to the locality, but to the people, and to all who imbibe their spirit and walk in their steps.
The mission of the prophets was the religious education of the Jewish people. They were raised up, according to the exigencies of the times, to preserve them from error, and to prepare their minds for the future development of the kingdom of God. Their object was twofold — to maintain the Church in due allegiance to prescribed rites, institutions, ordinances, and yet to prepare the people for a further manifestation of the blessings of the new covenant. By their writings they designed to impart to future ages an explanation of the vanishing-away of the system under which they lived, and to confirm the divine origin and authority of the new order of things. The prophetic style and diction exactly accords with this view of their design. This will account for the various hues of light and shade which streak the scroll of prophecy.
If the future course of events had been clearly marked out and formally laid down, all motives to present duty would have been obliterated; no room would have been left for the exercise of faith, of hope, of fear, and love; all thoughts, all feelings, all desires, would have been absorbed in the overpowering sense of expectation. But enough is revealed to support faith and animate hope. The remoter future is seen afar off in promises indistinct yet glorious. Confidence is bespoken for these distant predictions, by the clear and precise terms which portray some nearer event, fulfilled in that generation as a sign and token that all shall be accomplished in its season. Heathen divination, when it refers to any event which is near at hand, uses language remarkable for its ambiguity, but speaks distinctly of those matters which are reserved for the distant future. Those who spake in the name of Jehovah pursue the directly opposite course. Their language is much more express, distinct, and clear when they speak of events in the nearer future than in describing what shall take place in the latter days. Prophecy of this nature would not raise its voice at all times, lest that voice from its familiarity should be unheeded; but at every critical and eventful period prophecy led them on "a pillar of cloud in the brighter daylight of their purer and better times; a pillar of fire gleaming in the darker night of their calamity or sin" (Dean Magee).
The moral results of prophecy would have been lost if the historical element had been clear prior to the occurrence of the prefigured events. A certain veil must necessarily hang over the scene until its predictions passed into realities. The best form in which a prophecy can be delivered is to leave the main circumstances unintelligible before the fulfilment, yet so clear as to be easily recognised after the event. It was necessary as a touchstone for the faith and patience of the Church that a certain disguise should veil the coming events till they become facts in providence. "Whatever private information the prophet might enjoy, the Spirit of God would never permit him to disclose the ultimate intent and particular meaning of the prophecy" (Bishop Horsley).
4. Prophetical Language. — This takes its hue and coloring from the political condition of the kingdom, from the local standpoint of the writer, from the position of those to whom the message was delivered.
To say that prophetical language is figurative is simply to say that it is used for a spiritual purpose, and directed to spiritual ends. Our ordinary language in reference to mental and moral subjects is founded on analogy or resemblance. In early times language is nearly all figure; natural symbols are employed to denote common facts. It is the necessity of man's state that scarcely any fact connected with the mind or with spiritual truth can be described but, in language borrowed from material things. The visible world is the dial-plate of the invisible. God has stamped his own image on natural things, which he employs to describe and illustrate his own nature and his dealings with the Church. The Author of the spiritual kingdom is also the Author of the natural kingdom, and both kingdoms develop themselves after the same laws. Nature is a witness for the kingdom of God. Whatever exists in the earthly is found also in the heavenly kingdom.
The religious teachers of the Hebrew nation might adopt the apostle's language, "We see through a glass;" we consider, we contemplate by means of a mirror in a dark saying (1Co 13:12). All who held the prophetical office could in a measure adopt the language of our Lord, "I will open my mouth in similitudes; I will give vent to things kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Mt 13:35).
While prophecy frequently employed natural objects and scenery as the means of impressing the memory, instructing the judgment, interesting the heart, and charming the imagination, it made large use of the present and past condition of the nation, of the Levitical institutions and ceremonies, as symbols in representing good things to come. Thus we may observe
(1.) The future is described in terms of the past. The known is made use of to give shape and form to the unknown. We have a striking instance of this in Hosea (Ho 8:13; Ho 9:3): "They shall return to Egypt." "Ephraim shall return to Egypt. and shall eat unclean things in Assyria." The old state of bondage and oppression should come back upon them. The covenant whereby it was promised that the people should not return was virtually cancelled. They had made themselves as the heathen; they should be in the condition of the heathen. For in Ho 11:5 we read: "He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king; because they refused to return." They would not have God for their king; therefore the Assyrian should be their king, and a worse captivity than that of Egypt should befall them. In accordance with this, the teachers of false doctrine and the abetters of corruption in the Asiatic churches are spoken of as a resuscitation of Jezebel and Balaam (Re 14:20).
(2.) Prophecy made great use of the present, and especially of the standpoint and personal circumstances of the agent, to illustrate the future. Ezekiel describes the coming glory of the Church under the gorgeous and elaborate description of a temple. All the images in the nine concluding chapters are taken from this one analogy. He sums up his minute and precise representation with the significant hint, "The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there." The Apocalyptic seer, living when the Temple was laid waste, and all its rites and institutions were superseded, describes the glory of the new Jerusalem in language that seems to be directly contradictory (Re 21:22), "I saw no temple therein;" but in entire harmony with Eze 48:35, the Spirit testifies, "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Both Ezekiel and John speak of the same glorious future in language and imagery perfectly natural and appropriate to the times and circumstances in which they were placed.
(3.) Frequently the prophetic style received its complexion and coloring from the diversified circumstances of the parties addressed, as well as from the standpoint of the prophet. This is peculiarly the case with the language of Daniel, which presents such an approximation to the style of history that some have rashly assigned his writings to a date long posterior to the captivity of Babylon. The specific form which a portion of his prophecies assumes may be accounted for by considering the great feebleness and depression of the people on resuming their residence in Judaea; the anomalous and shattered condition of the theocratic constitution when the ark of the covenant, the Urim and Thummim, the kingly rule and government, were gone, when the vision was sealed, and no one of the prophetic order remained. This is the time selected for setting forth the external aspect of God's kingdom to one who was well conversant with political revolutions, who stood at the centre of the world's power and glory when earthly monarchies began to aspire after universal dominion. The visions granted to Daniel (8, 9), though plain to us who read them after the event, were far from being clear to himself or to others (Da 8:27; Da 12:4,8-9). In the symbols he employs we have a reflection of his own peculiar position and political experience; and in the detailed exhibition of the coming future, in the explicit predictions of the changes and vicissitudes which were at hand, the children of faith felt that the God of their fathers was still in the midst of them. Prophecy is always a revelation of specific events, when the events spoken of are to be fulfilled in the nearer future. The picture presented to the Church was minutely portrayed in a historical dress whenever the hope of the faithful required special and immediate support. (See § 8, below.)
(4.) The divine impulse under which the prophets spoke, though it was supernatural, acted in harmony with personal characteristics and native susceptibilities. The supernatural ever bases itself upon the natural. Constitutional tendencies are moulded by the plastic influence of divine grace, but are never entirely obliterated. The prophets never lost personal consciousness, or any distinctive characteristic of thought and feeling, even when they were raised into an ecstatical condition. Extraordinary impressions of divine light and influence affected the rational as well as the imaginative power. The false lights which pretended to prophecy were impressions made on the imagination exclusively, "whose conceptions ran only in a secular channel, as the sect of diviners, enchanters, dreamers, and soothsayers" (J. Smith). The lowest degree of prophecy is when the imaginative power is most predominant, and the scene becomes too turbulent for the rational faculty to discern clearly the mystical sense. The highest is where all imagination ceases-as with Moses, "whom God knew face to face" — where truth is revealed to the reason and understanding.
(5.) The poetical element of prophecy arises from the ecstatical condition of the prophet, from the action of spiritual influences on constitutional tendencies. But as the primary aim of the religious teachers of the Hebrews was to influence the heart and conscience, the poetical element, though never entirely suppressed, was held in restraint, to further the higher ends of spiritual instruction. Hence, as Ewald remarks, "Prophetical discourse has a form and impress of its own, too elevated to sink to simple prose, too practical in its aim to assume the highest form of poetry." Of the two ideas involved in vates, the prophetical ruled the poetical. The distinction between the poet and the prophet may be thus expressed: as the prophet's aim was to work upon others in the most direct and impressive manner, he was at liberty to adopt any form or method of representation; but as the immediate aim of the poet is to satisfy himself and the requirements of his art, he cannot vary his definite manner, and change his mode of address at pleasure, in order to work upon others. The poetical elevation appears most vividly in the idealistic and imaginative form, when the patriarchal heads of the Jewish nation, their several families, Zion, Jerusalem, their religious and political centre, are addressed as living personalities present to the mind and eve of the prophet. A vivid instance of this personification occurs in Jer 31:15, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted. It was at Ramah that the Chaldean conqueror assembled the last band of captives (40:1): the prospect of perpetual exile lay before them. On their departure the last hope of Israel's existence seemed to expire. In the bold freedom of Eastern imagery, the ancestral mother of the tribe is conceived of as present at the scene, and as raising a loud wail of distress. This scene was substantially repeated in the massacre at Bethlehem. The cruel Edomite who then held the government of Judaea aimed what was meant to be a fatal blow against the real hope of Israel. Though it was but a handful of children that actually perished, yet as among these the Child of Promise was supposed to be included, it might well seem as if all were lost" (Fairbairn). SEE POETRY,
VII. Interpretation of Predictions. — In addition the hints given above and below, we here have only space for a few rules, deduced from the account which we have given of the nature of prophecy. They are,
(1.) Interpose distances of time according as history may show them to be necessary with respect to the past, or inference may show them to be likely in respect to the future, because, as we have seen, the prophetic visions are abstracted from relations in time.
(2.) Distinguish the form from the idea. Thus Isa 11:15 represents the idea of the removal of all obstacles from before God's people in the form of the Lord's destroying the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and smiting the river into seven streams.
(3.) Distinguish in like manner figure from what is represented by it, e.g. in the verse previous to that quoted do not understand literally "They shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines" (ver. 14).
(4.) Make allowance for the imagery of the prophetic visions, and for the poetical diction in which they are expressed.
(5.) In respect to things past, interpret by the apparent meaning, checked by reference to events; in respect to things future, interpret by the apparent meaning, checked by reference to the analogy of the faith.
(6.) Interpret according to the principle which may be deduced from the examples of visions explained in the Old Test.
(7.) Interpret according to the principle which may be deduced from the examples of prophecies interpreted in the New Test. SEE INTERPRETATION.
VIII. Use of Prophecy. — Predictions are at once a part and an evidence of revelation: at the time that they are delivered, and until their fulfilment, a part; after they have been fulfilled, an evidence. An apostle (2Pe 1:19) describes prophecy as "a light shining in a dark place," or "a taper glimmering where there is nothing to reflect its rays," that is, throwing some light, but only a feeble light as compared with what is shed from the Gospel history. To this light, feeble as it is, "you do well," says the apostle, "to take heed." And he warns them not to be offended at the feebleness of the light, because it is of the nature of prophecy until its fulfilment (in the case of Messianic predictions, of which he is speaking, described as "until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts") to shed only a feeble light. Nay, he continues, even the prophecies are not to be limited to a single and narrow interpretation, "for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man," i.e. the prophets were not affected by personal considerations in their predictions, "but holy men of old spake by the impulse (φερόμενοι) of the Holy Ghost." This is in entire keeping with the above views (§ vi) of the character of the prophetic utterances, and was the use of prophecy before its fulfilment — to act as a feeble light in the midst of darkness, which it did not dispel, but through which it threw its rays in such a way as to enable a true-hearted believer to direct his steps and guide his anticipations (comp. Ac 13:27). But after fulfilment, Peter says, "the word of prophecy" becomes "more sure" than it was before, that is, it is no longer merely a feeble light to guide, but it is a firm ground of confidence, and, combined with the apostolic testimony, serves as a trustworthy evidence of the faith; so trustworthy that even after he and his brother apostles are dead, those whom he addressed will feel secure that they "had not followed cunningly devised fables," but the truth.
As an evidence, fulfilled prophecy is as satisfactory as anything can be, for who can know the future except the Ruler who disposes future events; and from whom can come prediction except from him who knows the future? After all that has been said and unsaid, prophecy and miracles, each resting on their own evidence, must always be the chief and direct evidences of the truth of the divine character of a religion. Where they exist, a divine power is proved. Nevertheless, they should never be rested on alone, but in combination with the general character of the whole scheme to which they belong. Its miracles, its prophecies, its morals, its propagation, and its adaptation to human needs, are the chief evidences of Christianity. None of these must be taken separately. The fact of their conspiring together is the strongest evidence of all. That one object with which predictions are delivered is to serve in an after-age as an evidence on which faith may reasonably rest is stated by our Lord himself: "And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe" (Joh 14:29). SEE PROPHECY.
As prophecy came πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως, in many portions and in many modes (Heb 1:1), we need not be surprised to find a relative disregard of time in its announcements. The seers beheld things to come much as wee look upon a starry sky. To the natural eye all the orbs that bespangle the firmament seem to be at the same distance from the earth. Though the monarchies of Daniel are successive, yet in a certain way they are described as co-existent; for it is only on the establishment of the last that they seem to disappear. As the precise time of individual events is not revealed, prophecy describes them as continuous. The representation is rather in space than in time; the whole appears foreshortened; perspective is regarded rather than actual distance; as a common observer would describe the stars, grouping them as they appear, and not according to their true positions. Prof. Payne Smith well observes, "The prophets are called seers, and their writings visions. They describe events passing before their mental eye as simple facts, without the idea of time. A picture may represent the past. the present, or the future; this we may know from its accessories by the inference of the judgment, but not by the sight as such. If time is revealed, as in the seventy weeks of Daniel, time is the idea impressed upon the mind. But where time is not itself the thing revealed, the facts of revelation are not described as connected with or growing out of one another, as in the pages of history, but are narrated as facts merely, which future ages must arrange in their proper place, as one by one they are fulfilled." The first conquest and the complete destruction of Babylon are spoken of together (Jer 1:19), though nearly a thousand years elapsed between them. Zechariah connects the spiritual salvation of the Church in the distant future with the temporal deliverance of the Jews under Alexander and the Maccabees. In the description which is given of the humiliation and glory of the Messiah, notice is seldom taken of the interval which is to elapse before the full and final establishment of his kingdom. So Paul in the fulness of his faith, which realized the object of his hope, and brought vividly before the eve of his mind the consummation of all things. has used language respecting the coming of Christ which some have misinterpreted as implying that he expected the day of Christ to arrive in his lifetime. Occasionally the precise time was revealed, as in the case of the sojourn of Abraham and his posterity in Egypt (Ge 15:13); the disruption of Ephraim (Isa 7:8), and the captivity in Babylon (Jer 29:10). But usually the prophets were entirely ignorant of the time, and only ascertained. after careful inquiry, that they spoke of the distant future (1Pe 1:10-12). At evening-time it shall be light (Zec 14:7). The faithful in the land will discern the period when the events are upon the eve of fulfilment. SEE ESCHATOLOGY.
IX. Development of Messianic Prophecy. — Prediction, in the shape of promise and threatening, begins with the book of Genesis. Immediately upon the fall, hopes of recovery and salvation are held out, but the manner in which this salvation is to be effected is left altogether indefinite. All that is at first declared is that it shall come through a child of woman (Ge 3:15). By degrees the area is limited: it is to come through the family of Shem (Ge 9:26), through the family of Abraham (Ge 12:3), of Isaac (Ge 22:18), of Jacob (Ge 28:14), of Judah (Ge 49:10). Balaam seems to say that it will be wrought by a warlike Israelitish King (Nu 24:17); Jacob, by a peaceful Ruler of the earth (Ge 49:10); Moses, by a Prophet like himself, i.e. a revealer of a new religious dispensation (De 18:15). Nathan's announcement (2Sa 7:16) determines further that the salvation is to come through the house of David, and through a descendant of David who shall be Himself a king. This promise is developed by David himself in the Messianic Psalms. Ps 18; Ps 61 are founded on the promise communicated by Nathan, and do not go beyond the announcement made by Nathan. The same may be said of Psalm 89, Which was composed by a later writer. Ps 2; Ps 110 rest upon the same promise as their foundation, but add new features to it. The Son of David is to be the Son of God (2:7), the anointed of the Lord (ver. 2), not only the King of Zion (ver. 6; 110:1), but the inheritor and lord or of the whole earth (2:8; 110:6), and, besides this, a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (110:4). At the same time he is, as typified by his progenitor, to be full of suffering and affliction (Ps 22; Ps 71; Ps 102; Ps 109): brought down to the grave, yet raised to life without seeing corruption (Psalm 16). In Ps 45:17, the sons of Korah and Solomon describe his peaceful reign. Between Solomon and Hezekiah intervened some 200 years, during which the voice of prophecy was silent. The Messianic conception entertained at this time by the Jews might have been that of a King of the royal house of David who would arise, and gather under his peaceful sceptre his own people and strangers. Sufficient allusion to his prophetical and priestly offices had been made to create thoughtful consideration, but as yet there \was no clear delineation of him in these characters. It was reserved for the prophets to bring out these features more distinctly.
The sixteen prophets may be divided into four groups: the Prophets of the Northern Kingdom — Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah; the Prophets of the Southern Kingdom — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah; the Prophets of the Captivity — Ezekiel and Daniel;
the Prophets of the Return — Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. In this great period of prophetism there is no longer any chronological development of Messianic prophecy, as in the earlier period previous to Solomon. Each prophet adds a feature, one more, another less clearly: combine the features, and we have the portrait; but it does not grow gradually and perceptibly under the hands of the several artists. Here, therefore, the task of tracing the chronological progress of the revelation of the Messiah comes to an end: its culminating point is found in the prophecy contained in Isa 52:13-15,15. We here read that there should be a Servant of God, lowly and despised, full of grief and suffering, oppressed, condemned as a malefactor, and put to death. But his sufferings, it is said, are not for his own sake, for he had never been guilty of fraud or violence: they are spontaneously taken, patiently borne, vicarious in their character; and, by God's appointment, they have an atoning, reconciling, and justifying efficacy. The result of his sacrificial offering is to be his exaltation and triumph. By the path of humiliation and expiatory suffering, he is to reach that state of glory foreshown by David and Solomon. The prophetic character of the Messiah is drawn out by Isaiah in other parts of his book as the atoning work here. By the time of Hezekiah therefore (for Hengstenberg, Chrtistology, vol. 2, has satisfactorily disproved the theory of a Deutero-Isaiah of the days of the captivity) the portrait of the θεάνθρωπος — at once King, Priest. Prophet, and Redeemer — was drawn in all its essential features. The contemporary and later prophets (comp. Mic 5:2; Da 7:9; Zec 6:13; Mal 4:2) added some particulars and details, and so the conception was left to await its realization after al interval of some 400 years from the date of the last Hebrew prophet.
The modern Jews, in opposition to their ancient exposition, have been driven to a non-Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53. Among Christians the non-Messianic interpretation commenced with Grotius. He applies the chapter to Jeremiah. According to Doderlein, Schuster, Stephani, Eichhorn, Rosenmuller, Hitzig, Itandewerk, Kister (after the Jewish expositors Jarchi, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Abarbanel, Lipmann), the subject of the prophecy is the Israelitish people. According to Eckermann, Ewald, Bleek, it is the ideal Israelitish people. According to Paulus, Ammon, Maurer, Thenius, Knobel, it is the godly portion of the Israelitish people. According to De Wette, Gesenius, Schenkel, Umbreit, Hofmann, it is the prophetical body. Augusti refers it to king Uzziah; Konynenburg and Bahrdt to Hezekiah; Statudlin to Isaiah himself; Bolten to the house of David. Ewald thinks that no historical person was intended, but that the author of the chapter has misled his readers by inserting a passage from an older book, in which a martyr was spoken of. "This," he says, "quite spontaneously suggested itself, and has impressed itself on my mind more and more;" and he thinks that "controversy on ch. 53 will never cease until this truth is acknowledged" (Propheten, vol. 2, p. 407). Hengstenberg gives the following list of German commentators who have maintained the Messianic explanation: Dathe, Hensler, Kocher, Koppe, Michaelis, Schmieder, Storr, Hansi, Kruger, Jahn, Steudel, Sack, Reinke, Tholuck, Havernick, Stier. Hengstenberg's own exposition, and criticism of the expositions of others, is well worth consultation (Christology, vol. ii). Riehm has given a very good outline of these prophecies in their origin, historical character, and relation to New Test. fulfilment in the Studien und Kritiken for 1865 and 1869 (transl. by Jefferson, Messianic Prophecy, Edinb. 1876, 12mo). Drummond's work on The Jewish Messiah is a semi- rationalistic view drawn chiefly from apocryphal literature (Lond. 1877, 8vo). Prebendary Row has shown (Bampton Lecture for 1877, p. 234 sq.) the insufficiency of the Messianic elements of the Old Test. as an ideal model for the delineation of the Christ of the New Test. SEE MESSIAH.
X. Prophets of the New Testament. — So far as their predictive powers are concerned, the Old-Test. prophets find their New-Test. counterpart in the writer of the Apocalypse; but in their general character, as specially illumined revealers of God's will, their counterpart will rather be found, first in the Great Prophet of the Church, and his forerunner John the Baptist, and next in all those persons who were endowed with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in the apostolic age, the speakers with tongues and the interpreters of tongues, the prophets and the discerners of spirits, the teachers and workers of miracles (1Co 12:10,28). The connecting link between the Old-Test. prophet and the speaker with tongues is the state of ecstasy in which the former at times received his visions and in which the latter uttered his words. The Old-Test. prophet, however, was his own interpreter: he did not speak in the state of ecstasy: he saw his visions in the ecstatic, and declared them in the ordinary state. The New-Test. discerner of spirits has his prototype in such as Micaiah, the son of Imlah (1Ki 22:22), the worker of miracles in Elijah and Elisha, the teacher in each and all of the prophets. The prophets of the New Test. represented their namesakes of the Old Test. as being expounders of divine truth and interpreters of the divine will to their auditors.
That predictive powers did occasionally exist in the New-Test. prophets is proved by the case of Agabus (Ac 11:28), but this was not their characteristic. They were not an order, like apostles, bishops or presbyters, and deacons, but they were men or women (Ac 21:9) who had the χάρισμα προφητείας vouchsafed them. If men, they might at the same time be apostles (1 Corinthians 14); and there was nothing to hinder the different χαρίσματα of wisdom, knowledge, faith, teaching, miracles, prophecy, discernment. tongues, and interpretation (ch. 12) being all accumulated on one person, anti this person might or might not be a presbyter. Paul describes prophecy as being effective for the conversion, apparently the sudden and immediate conversion, of unbelievers (Ac 14:24), and for the instruction and consolation of believers (ver. 31). This shows its nature. It was a spiritual gift which enabled men to understand and to teach the truths of Christianity, especially as veiled in the Old Test., and to exhort and warn with authority and effect greater than human (see Locke, Paraphrase. note on 1 Corinthians 12, and Conybeare and Howson, 1, 461). The prophets of the New Test. were supernaturally illuminated expounders and preachers.
XI. Literature. — On the general subject of prophecy no comprehensive or altogether satisfactory treatise has yet been produced. Among the old works we may mention Augustine, De Civitate Dei, lib. 18:cap. 27 sq. (Op. 7:508, Paris, 1685); Carpzov, Introd. ad Libros Canonicos (Lips. 1757). Some good remarks will be found in the essay of John Smith, On Prophecy (Select Discourses, disc. 6:p. 181, Loud. 1821, 8vo), which was translated into Latin and reprinted at the end of Le Clerc's Commentary on the Prophets (Amsterd. 1731). It contains interesting passages on the nature of the predictions in the Old Test., extracted from Jewish authors, of whom Maimonides is the most distinguished. Of less importance is the essay of Hermann Witsius, De Prophetia et Prophetis (in vol. 1 of his Miscellan. Sacra [Utrecht, 1692], p. 1-392): he digresses too much and needlessly from the main question, and says little applicable to the point; but he still supplies some useful materials. The same remark also applies in substance to Knibbe's History of the Prophets. Some valuable remarks, but much more that is arbitrary and untenable, will be found in Crusius's Hypomnnemata ad Theologiam Prophet. (Lips. 1764, 3 vols.). In the Treatise on Prophecy inserted by Jahn in his Introduction to the Old
Testament, he endeavors to refute the views of the Rationalists, but does not sift the subject to the bottom. Kleuker's work, De Nexu Proph. inter utrumque Foedus, possesses more of a genuine theological character. The leader of the Rationalists is Eichhorn, Die Hebraischen Propheten (Getting. 1816); also in his Introduction to the Old Testament, and in his dissertation De Prophet. Poes. Hebr. Their views on this subject are most fully explained by Knobel in his Prophetismus der Hebriaer vollstiindig darqestellt (Breslau, 1837, 2 vols.): the work contains. however, little original research, and is valuable only as a compilation of what the Rationalists assert concerning prophecy. The work of Koster, Die Propheten des A. und N.T. (Leipsic, 1838), bears a higher character: on many points he approaches to sounder views; but he is inconsistent and wavering, and therefore cannot be said to have essentially advanced the knowledge of this subject. Of considerable eminence is the treatise by Ewald on prophecy, prefixed to his Propheten des Alten Buzndes (Stuttg. 1840; 1867, 3 vols.). But to the important question, whether the prophets enjoyed supernatural assistance or not, an explicit answer will there be sought for in vain. His view of the subject is in the main that of the Rationalists, though he endeavors to veil it: the Spirit of God influencing the prophets is, in fact, only their own mind worked up by circumstances; their enthusiasm and ecstasy are made to explain all. Finally, the work of Hoffmann, Weissagun iq tnd Erfullungq im A. und N.T. (Nbrdlingen, 1841, vol. 1), is chargeable with spurious and affected originality: his views are often in their very details forced and strained, and it is to be regretted that the subject has by this work gained less than from the author's talent might have been expected. Many of the elements of prophecy have been very ably and a soundly discussed by Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, in T. T. Clark's transl. (Edinb. 1854). Other German works of importance on the subject are those of Umbreit, Die Propheten des A. Test. (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 1040 sq.); Tholuck, Die Propheten und iahe Weissayungen (1860; tranlsl. in the Bibliotheca Sacra, 1833, p. 361 sq.). The subject is likewise discussed more or less fully in all the introductions (q.v.) to the Old Test. See also Bible Educator (Index, s.v.). One of the latest and most specious productions of the Rationalistic school is that of Prof. Kuenen (of the University of Leyden), The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel (transl. by Milroy, Lond. 1877, 8vo); it reiterates with ingenious array all the difficulties, contradictions, and failures alleged by hostile writers, and refuted or explained again and again by orthodox scholars. SEE SEER.
Among writers in English we may especially name the following: Sherlock. discourses on the Use and Intent of Prophecy (1755, 8vo); Hurd, Introd. to the Study of the Prophecies, etc. (17/72, 8vo); Apthorp, Discourses on Prophecy (1786, 2 vols. 8vo); Davison, Discourses on Prophecy (1821, 8vo); Smith (J. Pye), Principles of Interpretation as applied to the Prophecies (of Holy Scripture (1829, 8vo); Brooks. Elements of Prophetical Interpretation (1837, 12mo); Alexander, Connection of the Old and New Testaments (1841, 8vo), lect. 4-7, p. 168-382; Lowth, De Sacra Presi Hebrceorum (Oxon. 1821, and transl. by Gregory, Lend. 1835); Horsley, Biblical Criticism (Lond. 1820); Horne, Introduction to Holy Scripture (Loud. 1828), ch. 4:§ 3; Van Mildert, Boyle Lectures (Lond. 1831), § 22; Fairbairnl, Prophecy: its nature, Functions, and Interpretation (Edinb. 1856); M'Caul, Aids to Faith (Lond. 1861); Smith (K. Payne), Messianic Interpretation of the Prophecies of Isaiah (Oxf. 1862); Davidson, Introduction to the Old Testament (Lond. 1862), ii, 422; Stanley, Lectures on the Jewish Church (Lond. 1863); Maurice, The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament (rep. Bost. 1853); Stuart, Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy (Andover, 1844); Arnold, On the Interpretation of Prophecy (in his Works, Lond. 1845, i, 373 sq.); Taylor, Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (rep. N.Y. 1862). See also Journ. Sacred Literature, Oct. 1862; Meth. Qaur. Rev. April, 1862; Alford, Greek Test. (note on "Acts" 13:41); the monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 22, 43, 44; by Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 103; by Danz, Worterb. p. 793; by Darling, Cyclopedia Bibliograpihica, col. 1785 sq.; and under the art. SEE PROPHETS, MAJOR AND MINOR.