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

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il
Mon Jul 5 03:29:59 EDT 2004


The distance between ecstatic "prophesying" and mad "raving" was not great,
in the minds of the ancient Israelites.
See Hos. 9:7 ewil hannaby' me$ugga' 'i$ haruax
and 2 Ki. 9:11 maddu'a ba' hamme$ugga' hazzeh.

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, July 05, 2004 5:42 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] 'Prophesying' 1 Samuel 18:10


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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