(Heb. nabi, from a root meaning “to bubble forth, as from a fountain,” hence “to utter”, comp.
The “prophet” proclaimed the message given to him, as the “seer” beheld the vision of God. (See
But while the prophetic gift was thus exercised from the beginning, the prophetical order as such began with Samuel. Colleges, “schools of the prophets”, were instituted for the training of prophets, who were constituted, a distinct order (
In New Testament times the prophetical office was continued. Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet (
Of the Old Testament prophets there are sixteen, whose prophecies form part of the inspired canon. These are divided into four groups:
The prophets of the northern kingdom (Israel), viz., Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah.
The prophets of Judah, viz., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.
The prophets of Captivity, viz., Ezekiel and Daniel.
The prophets of the Restoration, viz., Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
They were the national poets of Judea.
They were annalists and historians. A great portion of Isaiah, of Jeremiah, of Daniel of Jonah, of Haggai, is direct or in direct history.
They were preachers of patriotism,, their patriotism being founded on the religious motive.
They were preachers of morals and of spiritual religion. 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.
They were extraordinary but yet authorized exponents of the law.
They held a pastoral or quasi-pastoral office.
They were a political power in the state.
But the prophets were something more than national poets and annalists, preachers of patriotism moral teachers, exponents of the law, pastors and politicians. Their most essential characteristic 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 foretelling the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the redemption effected by him. We have a series of prophecies which are so applicable to the person and earthly life of Jesus Christ as to be thereby shown to have been designed to apply to him. And if they were designed to apply to him, prophetical prediction is proved. Objections have, been urged. We notice only one, vis., vagueness. It has been said that the prophecies are too darkly and vaguely worded to be proved predictive by the events which they are alleged to foretell. But to this might be answered,
That God never forces men to believe, but that there is such a union of definiteness and vagueness in the prophecies as to enable those who are willing to discover the truth, while the willfully blind are not forcibly constrained to see it.
That, had the prophecies been couched in the form of direct declarations, their fulfillment would have thereby been rendered impossible or at least capable of frustration.
That the effect of prophecy would have been far less beneficial to believers, as being less adapted to keep them in a state of constant expectation.
That the Messiah of revelation could not be so clearly portrayed in his varied character as God and man, as prophet, priest and king, if he had been the mere teacher.”
That the state of the prophets, at the time of receiving the divine revelation, was such as necessarily to make their predictions fragmentary figurative, and abstracted from the relations of time.
That some portions of the prophecies were intended to be of double application, and some portions to be understood only on their fulfillment, Comp. (