The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

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The call to conversion (Zech 1:2-1:3)

“Yahweh said.

‘Yahweh was very angry

With your ancestors.

Therefore,

Say to them.’

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Return to me!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will return to you.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

The message of Yahweh to Zechariah was very simple.  Return to Yahweh!  Yahweh had been angry at their ancestors.  All they had to do was to return to him and he would return to them.  The Yahweh of hosts, via Zechariah, had a clear message of conversion or reconversion.

Like Sodom and Gomorrah

“I overthrew some of you,

As when God overthrew

Sodom and Gomorrah.

You were

Like a brand

Snatched

From the fire.

Yet you did not

Return to me,’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has yet another oracle of Yahweh with the same theme about the failure to return to Yahweh. This time, Yahweh overthrew some of them like in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, chapter 19. These Israelites were like a brand taken from a fire. Despite all these problems, the northern kingdom Israelites still refused Yahweh.

Return to Yahweh (Hos 14:1-14:2)

“O Israel!

Return

To Yahweh!

Your God!

You have stumbled

Because of your iniquity.

Take words with you!

Return

To Yahweh!

Say to him!

‘Take away all guilt!

Accept that which is good!

We will offer

The fruit of our lips.’”

Hosea remined them that there was still hope. If they returned to Yahweh, their God, there might be a chance. They had stumbled because of their iniquity. They had to take back their own words. They had to return to Yahweh. They should ask God to take away all their guilt. They should have a change of heart. They should change the words that they say. They should be more careful in how they talk.

Return to Yahweh (Hos 6:1-6:3)

“Come!

Let us return to Yahweh!

He has torn us.

He will heal us.

He has struck us down.

He will bind us up.

After two days,

He will revive us.

On the third day,

He will raise us up,

That we may live

Before him.

Let us know!

Let us press on

To know Yahweh!

His appearing is

As sure

As the dawn.

He will come to us

Like the showers,

Like the spring rains

That water the earth.”

Hosea asked his listeners to return to Yahweh. Although, Yahweh had torn them down, now he would heal them. He had struck them down. Now he would bind them up. After 2 days, he would revive them. On the 3rd day, he would raise them up, a theme of the early Christian writers. Thus, they might live in the sight of Yahweh. They would want to know Yahweh, since his appearance was as sure as the daily dawn of the sun. He would come to them, like a soft shower or spring rain that waters the earth and makes it grow. So, the same thing would happen to these Israelites.