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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Jul 6 12:40:10 EDT 2004

On 06/07/2004 17:17, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> ...
> HH: I agree with you. I never said there was something inherently 
> wrong implied by the Hithpael use of NB). Remember, I said: "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."
> HH: All that you wrote seems good to me. Yet if one is possessed by an 
> evil spirit, he is not prophesying in the normal sense. So "rave" or 
> "act like a prophet" might be the way to translate. I said that the 
> Hithpael can suggest: "He may present himself as something either 
> truthfully or not truthfully." Specifically Waltke and O'Connor said 
> that one esteems or presents "oneself in a state, sometimes without 
> regard to the question of truthfulness."
OK. But "act like a prophet" sounds like deliberate deception on behalf 
of the "prophet", but this is not necessarily true of later false 
prophets and almost certainly not of Saul. More likely they genuinely 
believed they were passing on a message from a spirit, but in the view 
of those who opposed them that spirit was an evil or lying spirit and 
the message was not from God - especially when that message was a spear 
tip speeding towards David. But in the Hebrew Bible even the lying 
spirits are from God, see also 1 Kings 22:21-23.

I don't like "rave" either because it implies something about the 
physical manifestations which we don't really know. This may fit 1 
Samuel 18:10, and it may be a suitable pejorative term for false 
prophecy, or for true prophecy from a king who rejected it e.g. Jer 
29:26, but I don't think it can be used more generally. Indeed, 
reviewing the verses you gave earlier, "rave" could be used properly 
only at 1 Samuel 18:10 and 1 Kings 18:29, but I wouldn't recommend it in 
either place because it loses the theological link. In Jer 29:26 "rave" 
might be used for MESHUGGA` but not for MITNABBE'.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list