Some prophets wrote things, while others had people write things about them. Thus, there is a mixed bag about the Hebrew prophets. Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them. Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings. Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message. Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy. The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers. Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests. Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests. The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet. These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom. Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life. They were not always praised, since some prophets were even considered bad or false prophets. Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.
Thus says Yahweh God!
‘I will stretch out
Against the Philistines.
I will cut off
I will destroy
The rest of the seacoast.
I will execute
With wrathful punishments.
Then they will know
That I am Yahweh,
When I lay
There will be no intermediary to punish the Philistines. Yahweh was going to stretch out his hand against the Philistines. He was going to cut down these Cherethites, another name for the Philistines. The use of this term has led to the supposition that the Philistines may have been from Crete. Yahweh was going to destroy the whole seacoast, since that is where the Philistines lived. Yahweh, himself, was going to bring these vengeful punishments without any outside help. Once again, the hope was that these Philistines would recognize that Yahweh was God.
“To the nation the king’s letter was as follows.
To the senate of the Jews and to the other Jews,
If you are well,
It is as we desire.
We also are in good health.
Menelaus has informed us
That you wish to return home.
You wish to look after your own affairs.
Therefore those who go home
By the thirtieth day of Xanthicus
Will have our pledge of friendship and full permission.
The Jews will enjoy their own food and laws,
Just as formerly,
None of them shall be molested in any way
For what he may have done in ignorance.
I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you.
The one hundred forty-eighth year,
The king once again, like Lysias, ignored Judas Maccabeus. The letter was addressed to the Jewish Senate and all the Jews. In fact, Menelaus, the high priest, is the real intermediary. The king sent his good will through Menelaus, during the 13th day of the month of Xanthicus, March or April, of 164 BCE. He understood that they wanted to take care of their own affairs. He hoped that they were in good health as he was. They could now enjoy their own food and laws without any bother. They could also return to their own lands in the next 2 weeks. He still held out the possibility of further harassment because they might disobey out of ignorance.