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Prophecy - Hebrew Prophecy

god prophet israel moses

The religion of the Hebrews was a prophetic religion from the beginning. The gift of prophecy was a distinctive mark of communion with the divine among the Semites. In the Old Testament theophanies and oracles were predominant in the earliest stages of God's revelation of himself. Before a war or the signing of a treaty, the Hebrew people would "consult" God through its seers and especially its priests. Gradually a distinction emerged between dreams that truly revealed God's communication with prophets (Num. 12:6; Deut. 13:1–2) and those of professional seers (Jer. 23:25–32; Isa. 28:7–13).

The covenant revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai became the apogee of God's revelations. Through this covenant God (Yahweh) became the head of the Hebrew people (Israel) and delivered them from Egypt. In return the people Israel promised fidelity to the Law (the Decalogue), which reveals the divine will. The prophets used the covenant in regard to events in their own time. The word of God spoken through his prophets summons Israel to have faith in the Decalogue and the covenant.

The Hebrew word for prophet (nabhi) implies that the subject is being acted upon and retains the character of that which has acted upon it. The verb nibba means "to make an announcement" and also "to display excessive excitement." Nabhi means one subject to the inspiration of a god or demon and designates the behavior associated with a prophet. Thus the word prophet could be applied to the prophets of the Bible and to the devotees of Baal. The dark aspects were surely present among the Hebrews, as witnessed by God's destruction of almost all of his creation because of humanity's sinfulness. Because of one man's devotion to God, however, humankind was given a second chance. Noah becomes symbolic of righteousness and of God's promise that he would not again destroy his creation by flood. Noah's story is a prophetic story that offers hope for humankind, who listens to God's voice and heeds it. While Noah himself was not considered a prophet in the strict sense, his faith in and obedience to God established the prophetic tradition among the Hebrews. Noah called upon his contemporaries to repent, hoping that their turning away from sin would secure their safety. Noah was called a righteous man because he obeyed God and served his fellow people. He brought aid to humankind by introducing plows, axes, sickles, and other implements that would lighten their labors, according to the Haggadah (folk legend, in distinction from law, in the Talmud). The Haggadah states that "wherever it says 'a righteous man' the meaning is of one who forewarns others." Therefore in the Haggadah Noah is regarded as a "prophet, a truthful man, a monitor of his generation, a herald persecuted for his rebukes and honesty."

In the last phase of Hebrew prophecy the word nabhi took on only the meaning of announcing. The Hebrews used another word in addition to nabhi when they spoke of prophets: "Now in time past, in Israel when a man went to consult God he spoke thus: 'Come, let us go to the seer [ ro eh ]. For he that is now called a prophet [ nabhi ], in time past was called a seer'" (1 Sam. 9:9). "Second sight" is a description of the ways in which prophets arrived at their forecasts of the future and appears to be a universal phenomenon. Seeing and hearing are the principal means by which the Hebrew prophets received commands from the invisible God. Whereas seeing God was an important part of God's revelation of himself, hearing God's word as revealed in history was of equal if not greater importance. The "second sight" of the prophet is seeing that which is unseen by others and hearing that which is unheard by others. The Greek word oida reflects this association. Oida means literally "I have seen;" because "I have seen," therefore "I know." What the prophet has seen becomes for the prophet knowledge from God. A prophet has seen and consequently knows. An ordinary person has seen only.

The divine will might be manifested indirectly through the sights and sounds of physical nature, such as the rustling of trees (2 Sam. 5:24), the movements of clouds (Exod. 14:19–20), the power of the winds (Exod. 14:21–22), the consulting of lots, or even the movement of entrails of animals offered in sacrifice (Ezek. 21:19–21). God spoke directly through certain ministers chosen to be his prophets. Communication between God and humans was varied. Sometimes the prophet dreamed dreams (Numbers 12:6; 1 Sam. 28:6); sometimes the prophet's inspiration came from music (2 Kings 3:15). Numbers 12:2–8 sets forth the distinctions God himself made about the types of prophecy and the reasons behind these types. When Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of their jealousy, they complained, "'Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks? Does he not speak through us also?' And the Lord heard this." God then summoned Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come out to the meeting tent. All three obeyed. "Then the Lord came down in a column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam. When they both came forward, He said 'Now listen to the words of the Lord: Should there be a prophet among you in visions, will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; not so with my servant Moses. Throughout my house he bears my trust; face to face I speak to him, plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the Lord he beholds.'" Since God chose Moses as the one to whom he would speak directly and face-to-face, Moses represented the highest order of prophecy, indeed the "prophet of prophets." God had appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the land of Horeb and had bade Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of its bondage in Egypt. On Mount Sinai God spoke face-to-face. Moses towers above all in the Old Testament as a prophet and as a national leader, forging a captive people into a nation, Israel.

In The Guide of the Perplexed, Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides; 1135–1204) states that "the prophecy of Moses our Master is distinguished from the prophecy of those who came before and who came after him.… The same applies, in my opinion, to his miracles and to the miracles of others, for his miracles do not belong to the class of the miracles of the other prophets. The proof taken from the Law as to his prophecy being different from that of all who came before him is constituted by His saying: 'And I appeared unto Abraham … but by My name, the Lord, I made Me not known to them.'"

Moses was the mediator between God and Israel in explaining the responsibilities of the covenant confirmed at Sinai. His significance as prophet, lawgiver, nation builder, and intermediary cannot be overemphasized. His wonders performed on behalf of Israel far exceeded those of any other prophet. Prevailing over the mightiest force of nature, he activated God's power. He could speak with God at will, "mouth to mouth." He is called God's servant, his chosen; on occasion he is called "the man of God," which is a prophetic epithet. In Deuteronomy (34:10–12) he is compared to other prophets: "Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land, and for the might and the terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel."

Numbers (11:25–30) relates that God bestowed some of the spirit taken from Moses on the seventy elders in the meeting tent. Two men who had remained in the camp, Eldad and Medad, also received the spirit of the Lord, and they prophesied in the camp. An aide to Moses asked Moses to stop them from prophesying, but Moses replied: "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!" (Num. 11:29). From this passage it is clear that God bestows the gift of prophecy upon whomever he wills. It is also clear that Moses had all the qualities necessary to be "the man of God." Therefore Moses can justly be called the archetype of a prophet.

The history of Israel could be said to demonstrate the significance of prophecy in the life of the nation. In Sirach (39:1) the sage sets forth for his contemporaries the essential nature of the Law and of prophecy. "How different the man who devotes himself to the study of the Law of the Most High! He explores the wisdom of the men of old and occupies himself with the prophecies." The prophets who preceded the period of exile that began with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E. conceived of themselves as defenders and guardians of the covenant. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah called Israel to fidelity and service to God and his covenant; because of Israel's frequent failure to observe the covenant, the prophets warned of divine punishments. Amos emphasized the role of prophet: "For the Lord God doth nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Prophets were not always well received by the people, however, and Amos was urged to go into the land of Judah and prophesy because he had proclaimed that Jeroboam, the king of Israel, would die by the sword and Israel would be carried away from its land (7:10–11). Amos steadfastly maintained that his words were God's words. He also warned of a famine more severe than a famine of bread and water: the cessation of hearing God's word.

The prophecies of Isaiah, the son of Amos, warn of the punishment of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, indeed of all the lands that had forgotten the Lord. The prophet's language is beautiful, even as he enumerates the sins of the people. In spite of his reproofs against the people, he offers hope that Jerusalem will be restored: "And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall come forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into plowshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation" (Isa. 2:3–4). Isaiah often expresses optimism, emphasizing the peace that will follow true repentance and a turning to the words of the Lord.

Jeremiah occupies an important place among the prophets because it was he who tried to determine criteria by which the word of God could be recognized: the authentic word of God would be known when the prophet's words were fulfilled (Jer. 28:9, 32:6–8); the prophecy would demonstrate faith in God and the traditional religion (23:13–32); and the heroic witness of the prophet himself would validate the prophecy (26:11–15). In contrast to Isaiah, who inferred that God needed his holy city and a people for his self-expression in the world, Jeremiah believed that God could establish his word among men with or without Israel (44:28). However, Jeremiah held that a remnant of Israel must survive to carry on the tradition and that Jerusalem, God's city and the seat of his worship, could not be allowed to be destroyed; but the deliverance of Israel would come from God himself, not from any human agent.

Whereas Jeremiah prophesied doom and Isaiah consoled, Ezekiel, whose name appears to mean "may God strengthen," began with doom and ended with consolation. He is perhaps the most colorful of the Hebrew prophets. The dramatic opening of Ezekiel's prophetic book sets the tone for the prophet's experiences. He writes that the heavens opened, and he saw visions of God: "And I saw and behold a whirlwind came out of the north, and a great cloud, and a fire infolding it, and brightness was about it: and out of the midst thereof, that is, out of the midst of the fire, as it were the resemblance of amber" (Ezek. l:4). This divine chariot was borne by four creatures who had four faces with the likeness of humans, and all had four wings. After this awesome experience the Lord expressed the responsibility that he had placed upon the prophet: "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel: and thou shalt hear the word out of my mouth, and shalt tell it them from me" (3:17). Ezekiel spoke for God in his denunciations against false prophets who follow their own spirit and see nothing, against the abominations of Jerusalem, against the ineffectiveness of the princes of Israel, and against the apostasies of Israel. Ezekiel's denunciations and his calls for repentance are based upon his insistence on the justice of God. Ezekiel was the only prophet since Moses to lay down a plan and law for the future. His plan envisioned true repentance and obedience to God as essential for a restored Israel. Then God in his justice would provide a permanent reconciliation with his people. Ezekiel followed the earlier prophetic view that God's special holiness, grace, and protection are reserved for Israel, although God rules over all the world.

Messianic expectations are also not missing in Ezekiel. Because of the wickedness and greed of the shepherds of Israel, who neglected their flock, the Lord will drive out the evil shepherds: "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David: he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God" (34:23–24). This passage is extremely significant for the association of the shepherd with the house of David and its subsequent centrality in the messianic expectations concerning Jesus of Nazareth. In the Gospel of Matthew (1:1–17), the gospel writer traces the lineage of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Lord's appointed shepherd, from Abraham to David and from David to Christ.

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6 months ago

Naba bubbling up in my book Steven's Unreal Truth you say a prayer and angels grant a bubble in my juice then i drink and get visions of amazing things such a the kingdom of god ziyd the spell prayer was created in my mind by me

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about 2 years ago

need to know place around israel where maaru and nabhi parents of aadinath tirthankar are worshiped or a day for them something like that hapens in world

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over 6 years ago

I heard some teacher said that "Naba" and "Ziyd" are 2 different words for prophecy. The first one Naba means the words bubbling up from the prophet, the 2nd one Ziyd means the words were boiled up from the prophet's mind or thought. And the difference lies in one is the spontaneous thoughts flown from God, and the other is the thoughts from one's heart. Is this correct. And which occurences in the Bible is using the word "Ziyd"? Thank you