[b-hebrew] 'Prophesying' 1 Samuel 18:10

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sun Jul 4 23:42:17 EDT 2004


Dear Brian,

>Another question from 1 Samuel.
>In verse 10 of chapter 18, the Hebrew says that 
>Saul was 'prophesying' in his house. What 
>exactly does this means in this situation?
>
>We have already been told in 1 Samuel 16:14 that 
>the Spirit of God had already left Saul, and yet 
>the Spirit of God is generally considered to be 
>a necessary pre-requisite for a prophet in the 
>Hebrew scriptures.
>
>Most of the more literal translations of this 
>passage in English use the word 'prophesying', 
>but three of the more 'dynamic' translations 
>[Good News, New Living & Contemporary English] 
>use a phrase like 'raving like a madman'. Is 
>there good justification for this, or is it a 
>case of trying to force an acceptable 
>translation based on theological presuppositions 
>that someone without the Spirit of God couldn't 
>prophesy?

HH: This is the verb NB) in the Hithpael. Here 
below are the places where it occurs. You can 
look at them yourself. The Dictionary of 
Classical Hebrew gives "rave" as the meaning for 
the verb at 1 Sam 18:10. Note the possible 
association of the verb with madness:

Jer. 29:26  'The LORD has appointed you priest in 
place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of 
the LORD; you should put any madman who acts like 
a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons.

HH: The Hebrew in Jer 29:26 for "madman who acts 
like a prophet" is two participles linked by the 
waw conjunction. There is some legitimate 
prophecy in the list below, but there is also a 
good deal of false prophecy, which sometimes 
involves raving type activities:

1Kings 18:29 Midday passed, and they continued 
their frantic prophesying until the time for the 
evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no 
one answered, no one paid attention.

HH: There are also a considerable number of 
one-time prophetic activities that resemble being 
possessed more than normal prophecy. Since NB) in 
the Qal is the normal word for prophesy, the 
Hithpael may carry some special flavor to it. 
"The Hithpael may denote esteeming or presenting 
oneself in a state, sometimes without regard to 
the question of truthfulness" (Waltke and 
O'Connor, _Biblical Hebrew Syntax_, 26.2f). So 
somebody may pretend to be something. He may 
present himself as something either truthfully or 
not truthfully.

				Yours,
				Harold Holmyard


Num. 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud 
and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit 
that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy 
elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they 
prophesied, but they did not do so again.
Num. 11:26 ¶ However, two men, whose names were 
Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They 
were listed among the elders, but did not go out 
to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, 
and they prophesied in the camp.
Num. 11:27 A young man ran and told Moses, 
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
1Sam. 10:5 ¶  "After that you will go to Gibeah 
of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As 
you approach the town, you will meet a procession 
of prophets coming down from the high place with 
lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played 
before them, and they will be prophesying.
1Sam. 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon 
you in power, and you will prophesy with them; 
and you will be changed into a different person.
1Sam. 10:10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a 
procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God 
came upon him in power, and he joined in their 
prophesying.
1Sam. 10:13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.
1Sam. 18:10 ¶ The next day an evil spirit from 
God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying 
in his house, while David was playing the harp, 
as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand
1Sam. 19:20 so he sent men to capture him. But 
when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, 
with Samuel standing there as their leader, the 
Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also 
prophesied.
1Sam. 19:21 Saul was told about it, and he sent 
more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men 
a third time, and they also prophesied.
1Sam. 19:23 ¶ So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. 
But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he 
walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.
1Sam. 19:24 He stripped off his robes and also 
prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way 
all that day and night. This is why people say, 
"Is Saul also among the prophets?"
1Kings 18:29 Midday passed, and they continued 
their frantic prophesying until the time for the 
evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no 
one answered, no one paid attention.
1Kings 22:8 ¶ The king of Israel answered 
Jehoshaphat,  "There is still one man through 
whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him 
because he never prophesies anything good about 
me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." 
¶  "The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat 
replied.
1Kings 22:10 ¶ Dressed in their royal robes, the 
king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were 
sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor 
by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all 
the prophets prophesying before them.
1Kings 22:18 ¶ The king of Israel said to 
Jehoshaphat,  "Didn't I tell you that he never 
prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?"
Jer. 14:14 ¶ Then the LORD said to me,  "The 
prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have 
not sent them or appointed them or spoken to 
them. They are prophesying to you false visions, 
divinations, idolatries and the delusions of 
their own minds.
Jer. 23:13  "Among the prophets of Samaria I saw 
this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and 
led my people Israel astray.
Jer. 26:20 ¶  (Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from 
Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in 
the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same 
things against this city and this land as 
Jeremiah did.
Jer. 29:26  'The LORD has appointed you priest in 
place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of 
the LORD; you should put any madman who acts like 
a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons.
Jer. 29:27 So why have you not reprimanded 
Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet 
among you?
Ezek. 13:17 ¶  "Now, son of man, set your face 
against the daughters of your people who prophesy 
out of their own imagination. Prophesy against 
them
Ezek. 37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, 
and breath entered them; they came to life and 
stood up on their feet - a vast army.
2Chr. 18:7 ¶ The king of Israel answered 
Jehoshaphat,  "There is still one man through 
whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him 
because he never prophesies anything good about 
me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." 
¶  "The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat 
replied.
2Chr. 18:9 ¶ Dressed in their royal robes, the 
king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were 
sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor 
by the entrance to the gate of Samaria, with all 
the prophets prophesying before them.
2Chr. 18:17 ¶ The king of Israel said to 
Jehoshaphat,  "Didn't I tell you that he never 
prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?"
2Chr. 20:37 Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah 
prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying,  "Because 
you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD 
will destroy what you have made." The ships were 
wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.


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