Prophets and Prophecy
A prophet is G-d's spokesman to the people
Can be male or female, Jewish or gentile
The Bible records 48 male prophets, 7 female and one gentile
Daniel was not a prophet because he did not speak to the people
What is a Prophet?
Many people today think of a prophet as any person who sees the future. While
the gift of prophecy certainly includes the ability to see the future, a
prophet is far more than just a person with that ability.
A prophet is basically a spokesman for G-d, a person
chosen by G-d to speak to people on G-d's behalf and convey a message or
teaching. Prophets were role models of holiness, scholarship and closeness to
G-d. They set the standards for the entire community.
The Hebrew word for a prophet, navi
(Nun-Beit-Yod-Alef) comes from the term niv
sefatayim meaning "fruit of the lips," which emphasizes the prophet's role as a
The Talmud teaches that there were hundreds of
thousands of prophets: twice as many as the number of people who left Egypt,
which was 600,000. But most of the prophets conveyed messages that were
intended solely for their own generation and were not reported in
scripture. Scripture identifies only 55
prophets of Israel.
A prophet is not necessarily a man. Scripture records the stories of seven
female prophets, listed below, and the Talmud reports that
Sarah's prophetic ability was superior to
A prophet is not necessarily a Jew. The Talmud reports that there were prophets
among the gentiles (most notably Balaam, whose story is told in Numbers 22),
although they were not as elevated as the prophets of Israel (as the story of
Balaam demonstrates). And some of the prophets, such as Jonah, were sent on
missions to speak to the gentiles.
According to some views, prophecy is not a gift that is arbitrarily conferred
upon people; rather, it is the culmination of a person's spiritual and ethical
development. When a person reaches a sufficient level of spiritual and ethical
achievement, the Shechinah (Divine Spirit) comes to rest upon him or her.
Likewise, the gift of prophecy leaves the person if that person lapses from his
or her spiritual and ethical perfection.
The greatest of the prophets was Moses. It is said
that Moses saw all that all of the other prophets combined saw, and more. Moses
saw the whole of the Torah, including the
Prophets and the
Writings that were written hundreds of years
later. All subsequent prophecy was merely an expression of what Moses had
already seen. Thus, it is taught that nothing in the Prophets or the Writings
can be in conflict with Moses' writings, because Moses saw it all in advance.
The Talmud states that the writings of the prophets will not be necessary in
the World to Come, because in that day, all people
will be mentally, spiritually and ethically perfect, and all will have the gift
Who are the Prophets of the Jewish Scriptures?
The following list of prophets is based on the
Talmud and Rashi.
||Gen 11:26 - 25:10
||Gen 21:1 - 35:29
||Gen 25:21 - 49:33
||Ex. 2:1 - Deut. 34:5
||Ex. 4:14 - Num. 33:39
||Ex. 17:9 - 14, 24:13, 32:17 - 18, 33:11; Num.
11:28 - 29, 13:4 - 14:38; 27:18 - 27:23, Deut. 1:38, 3:28, 31:3, 31:7 -Joshua
||Ex. 6:25; Num. 25:7-25:11; Num. 31:6; Josh. 22:13
- Josh. 24:33; Judges 20:28
||I Samuel 1:1 - 2:20
||I Samuel 1:9 - 4:18
||I Samuel 1:1 - I Samuel 25:1
||I Sam 22:5; II Sam 24:11-19; I Chron 21:9-21:19,
||II Sam 7:2 - 17; 12:1 - 25.
||I Sam 16:1 - I Kings 2:11
||II Sam 12:24; 1 Kings 1:10 - 11:43
||II Chron 9:29, 12:15, 13:22
|Michaiah son of Imlah
||I Kings 22:8-28; II Chron 18:7-27
||I Kings 18; Obadiah
|Ahiyah the Shilonite
||I Kings 11:29-30; 12:15; 14:2-18; 15:29
|Jehu son of Hanani
||I Kings 16:1 - 7; II Chron 19:2; 20:34
|Azariah son of Oded
||II Chron 15
|Jahaziel the Levite
||II Chron 20:14
|Eliezer son of Dodavahu
||II Chron 20:37
|Micah the Morashtite
||(the father of Isaiah)
||I Kings 17:1 - 21:29; II Kings 1:10-2:15,
9:36-37, 10:10, 10:17
||I Kings 19:16-19; II Kings 2:1-13:21
|Jonah ben Amittai
||I Kings 12:22-24; II Chron 11:2-4, 12:5-15
||Jeremiah 32, 36, 43, 45
||(father of Barukh)
||(father of Neriah)
||(father of Azariah)
||(father of Jehu)
||Gen 11:29 - 23:20
||Ex. 15:20-21; Num. 12:1-12:15, 20:1
||Judges 4:1 - 5:31
||I Sam 1:1 - 2:21
||I Sam 25:1 - 25:42
||II Kings 22:14-20
Why is Daniel Not a Prophet?
I am often asked why the Book of Daniel is included in the
Writings section of the
Tanakh instead of the
Prophets section. Wasn't Daniel a prophet?
Weren't his visions of the future true?
According to Judaism, Daniel is not one of the 55 prophets. His writings
include visions of the future, which we believe to be true; however, his
mission was not that of a prophet. His visions of the future were never
intended to be proclaimed to the people; they were designed to be written down
for future generations. Thus, they are Writings, not Prophecies, and are
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