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The literature of this period teaches us that idolatry
continued to prevail in Israel until the Exile, as well
as the su]oerstitious usages inseparable from it, and
especiall}^ the art of divination. But genuine prophet-
ism vigorously opposed this traditional tendency ; there
was thus a prophetism that was low and rude, false and
perfunctory,^ alongside of one that was pure and spirit-
ual, exalted and inspired; or rather the latter freed
itself from the former under an influence from on high.
Traditional prophetism, following the old routine, had
forfeited confidence in the presence of a new and higher
religious life; hence it was that such men as Amos,
impelled by the prophetic spirit to leave their ordinary
occupations, refused to be called prophets or sons, i.e.
disciples of prophets, in the sense in which the term
had hitherto been emplo3^ed.^

1 1 Sam. XV. 17 ff. ; xvi. 1 ff. ; 1 Kings i. 11 ff. ; xi. 29 ff. ; xiv. 6 ff.;
xvi. 1 ff. ; xxi. 17 ff. ; 2 Kings ix. 1 ff.

2 Mic. iii. 5-7 ; Zech. x. 2 ; Jer. xxix. 8 f. ; Ezek. xiii. 17-23 ; Isa.
xliv. 26. ^ Amos vii. 14 f.


The transformation that prophetism underwent is,
moreover, marked by the difference in the names given
to the prophets at different epochs. Originally they
were called seers; they did not take the name proph-
ets until later, ^ and then probably because they no
longer played the part of seers or diviners, but that of
prophets. What, then, does this latter title mean ? The
word nabhi^ prophet, is interpreted by scholars in two
w^ays. Some give to it a passive, others an active, sig-
nification. According to the former the prophet is above
all an inspired person; according to the latter he is
chiefly an interpreter of the will of God among men.^
But whatever may be the exact etymological significa-
tion of the term in question, it is perfectly certain that
the prophets are regarded at the same time as inspired
persons and as interpreters of the will of God, as men
to whom the will of God has been revealed by inspira-
tion in order that they may communicate it to their
people. This, as we shall see, is the teaching of a large
number of passages. For the diviner or the seer, the
important thing is the sign, the omen, that he sees
and observes ; for the prophet it is, on the one hand, in-
spiration, and on the other, the word by which he makes
known what God has revealed to him.^

The prophets are first of all inspired men. They
represent themselves as filled with the spirit of God
and directed by him in their ministry.* They some-

1 1 Sam. ix. 9. ^ Bleek, Introduction, § 178.

3 Maybaum, pp. 113 f.

4 Mic. iii. 8 ; Ezek. xi. 5 ; Isa. xlii. 1 ; xlviii. 16 ; Ixi. 1 ; Zech. vii. 12 ;
comp. Joel ii. 28 ; Num. xi. 17, 25 ff.; xxiv. 2 ; 1 Sam. x. 6, 10 ; xix.
20, 23 J 2 Kings ii. 9, 15 ; Neli. ix. 30.


times describe the action of the divine spirit upon them
in such terms as these: "The hand of Jehovah was
on me," i.e. the power of God seized me, the spirit of
God being regarded as a force, and so compared to the
hand.^ The prophet, being clothed with the spirit of
God, can, therefore, be called "a man of the spirit. "^

It is the spirit by which God communicates to the
prophets his revelations. Indeed, the teaching of the
passages just cited is that the spirit of God is granted
the prophets that he may reveal to them his will, and
they ma}^ be fitted to declare his word.^ God reveals to
the prophets all that he does.* He speaks to them and
he speaks through them.^ The prophets also claim to
declare the genuine word of God, and say, of the false
prophets, that they prophesy what comes from their own
hearts and not what comes from the mouth of God, God
not having spoken to them.^

It is God who raises up the prophets and sends them
to his people." The divine call made itself felt by the
prophets with such power that they could not resist it.^
They were convinced that they would take upon them-
selves grave responsibility if they neglected to fulfil the
divine commission that had been entrusted to them.^

1 Mic. iii. 8 ; Ezek. iii. 14 ; viii. 1-3 ; comp. i. 3 ; iii. 22 ; xxxiii. 22 ;
xxxvii. 1 ; xl. 1 ; Isa. viii. 11 ; 1 Kings xviii. 46 ; 2 Kings iii. 15.

2 See Hos. ix. 7, in the original.

3 Comp. 2 Sam. xxiii. 2 f . ; 1 Kings xxii. 24 ; Zech. vii. 12.

4 Amos iii. 7. 5 Hos. xii. 10.

6 Jer. xiv. 14 ; xxiii. 16, 21 ; Ezek. xiii. 2 ff., 7.

■^ Amos ii. 11 ; vii. 15 ; Isa. vi. 8 ff. ; Jer, i. 7 ; vii. 25 ; xxv. 4 ;
xxvi. 5 ; xxix. 15, 19 ; xxxv. 15 ; xliv. 4 ; Ezek. ii. 3 ; iii. 4 ff. ; Zech.
ii. 11 ; iv. 9 ; vi. 15.

« Amos iii. 8 ; Jer. xx. 7-9. ^ Ezek. iii. 18, 20 ; xxxiii. 8.


They said of the false prophets that they were not sent
by God.i

It is already clear from what has just been said that
the prophets were God's interpreters. This is still
clearer from Ex. vii. 1 and iv. 16. In the former of
these passages Jehovah says to Moses: "See, I have
made thee God to Pharaoh, and Aaron, thy brother,
shall be thy prophet." This means that there shall be
between Moses and Pharaoh the same relation as be-
tween God, who makes known his will, and man, to
whom this will is revealed; and that Aaron shall serve
as mediator between Moses and Pharaoh, as the prophet
mediates between God and man. This is expressed
still more clearly in the second passage, in which
Jehovah says to Moses that he shall take the place of
God to Aaron, and that Aaron shall serve as his mouth,
and speak for him to the people. This is the sense in
which Jeremiah is designated as the mouth of God.^
The prophets are, therefore, God's instruments; God
places his words in their mouths, and they say what
God commands them ; ^ they play the part of interpre-
ters among men.^

The prophets bear other titles that teach us what
they were and what they did. They are called watch-
men and guardians, or keepers,^ because they watched
over the conduct of the people, that they might rebuke

1 Jer. xiv. 14 f. ; xxiii. 21 ; xxvii. 15 ; xxviii. 15 ; xxix. 31 ; Ezek.
xiii. 6.

2 Jer. XV. 10.

3 Deut. xviii. 18 ; Jer. i. 9 ; comp. Num. xxiii. 5, 12, 16.

4 Isa. xliii. 27.

6 Mic. vii. 4 ; Jer. vi. 17 ; Ezek. iii. 17 ; xxxiii. 7 ; Isa. xxi. 11 f. ;
lii. 8 ; Ivi. 10 ; Ixii. G.


it in case of need. This is plainly expressed in three
passages, — Jer. vi. 27 ; Ezek. iii. 17 ; xxxiii. 7. In the
first, God speaks to the prophet: "I have placed thee
on the look-ont among my people, as a fortress, that
thou mayst know and search their ways " ; and in the
other two: "I have set thee as a watchman over the
house of Israel; thou shalt hear the word that goeth
forth from my mouth, and thou shalt warn them for
me." In accordance with this line of thought Jere-
miah could regard himself as a shepherd of his people, ^
the chief care of a shepherd being, not only to feed
his flock, but to watch it and protect it from all danger.
The name watchman or guardian, when applied to the
prophets, also evidently implies the idea that they see
better than others what is going to happen, what ap-
pears in the distance, and must be warded from the
people. Habakkuk says that he was at his post, that
he was watching on the top of the tower, listening for
what Jehovah might say to him, when a prophecy con-
cerning the approaching punishment of the Chaldeans
was communicated to him.^ The prophets are called
men of God,^ on account of the peculiar relation that
exists between them and God. They are called ser-
vants of Jehovah,* because they consecrate their lives
to his service, and envoys or messengers of Jehovah,^
because they are commissioned to carry his commands.

^ Jer, xvii. 16 ; comp. Zech. xi. 4 ff.

2 ii. 1 ff.

3 1 Sam. ii. 27 ; ix. 6 ff. ; 1 Kings xii. 22 ; xiii. 1 ff. ; xvii. 18, 24 ;
XX. 28 ; Jer. xxxv. 4 ; etc.

4 Amos iii. 7 ; Isa. xx. 3 ; Jer. xxv. 4 ; xxvi. 5 ; xxix. 19 ; xxxv.
15 ; xliv. 4 ; etc.

s Isa. xliv. 26 ; Hag. i. 13 ; Mai. iii. 1.


Since the prophets say, on every page of their writ-
ings, that they declare the word of God, and that God
has spoken to them, it is necessary for us to ask in
what this word consisted, and how it was communicated
to the prophets. In ancient times it was believed in
Israel that God spoke to men in the literal sense of
this word.i This is certainly the sense in which it is
said, in the early biblical documents, that God spoke to
Adam and his descendants, to Noah and the other patri-
archs, to Moses and Joshua, and afterwards to the judges
and the prophets. It was believed that God caused his
voice to be heard in speaking to men. 2 This, however,
is not the sense in which the prophets seem to have
understood the matter. Though they continued to use
the language that had been adopted when it was be-
lieved that God spoke after the manner of men, the
divine word addressed to them was certainly, for them,
an internal word.

The prophets also called their prophecies visions;
but they did so in imitation of the language of a time
when actual visions played an important part in proph-
etism. Yet, from Philo to Hengstenberg, this form of
expression has been made the basis of the doctrine that,
at the time of receiving revelations, the prophets were in
an ecstatic and entirely passive condition. In support
of this theory, appeal is made to the words above cited,
in which the prophets are called frenzied or insane men ;
stress is laid on the condition of exaltation and prostra-
tion into which Saul is thrown by prophetic inspiration,
on the condition, somewhat less ecstatic, of Balaam, at

1 Gen. xviii. ; Ex. xxxiii. 11 ; Num. xii. 8.

2 Ex. XX. 1 ; Deut. iv. 12 ; 1 Sam. iii. 4 ff. ; 1 Kings xix. 13.


the time of uttering his oracles, and finally on Num.
xii. 6-8, which says that while Jehovah speaks to Moses,
mouth to mouth, he reveals himself to the other proph-
ets only in visions and dreams.^

All this proves conclusively that, among the Israel-
itish prophets, there existed something like glossolaly,
an inferior degree of Christian inspiration, ^ and other
analogous phenomena that have since appeared in the
church, chiefly under the influence of American Metho-
dism; but it does not prove that all the prophets were
in this condition when they received the divine word.
Referring to the prophetic books, one discovers, on the
contrary, with Bleek,^ Oehler,* Schultz,^ and others,
that the prophets generally received revelations in a
perfectly conscious state of mind. Reuss shows, by
numerous examples, that the visions mentioned in the
prophetic books are "only symbolic forms of thought
and consequently simple literary contrivances, rhetorical
expedients, stylistic ornaments, and nothing more."^
One should not allow one's self to be led astray by the
term vision, which is almost a synonym for prophetic
and divine word."^ The prophets say that they have seen
the words or the discourses that they utter. ^ But the
passages that we have cited, and others,^ prove that
they give the name visions to discourses that have ab-

1 Tholuck, Die Propheten und Hire Weissagnngen, pp. 49 ff.; [Smith,
Dictionary, art. Prophet, IV.].

2 1 Cor. xiv. 3 § 183. * § 209 ff. ^ I. pp. 274 ff.

6 Les Prophetes, I. pp. 54 ff. ; comp. Kuenen, Hist. Critique des
Livres de VA. T., IL pp. 40 ff. ; [Schultz, I. 278 ff.].

■^ 1 Sam. iii. 1 ; 2 Sam. vii. 17 ; Hos. xii. 10 ; Isa. xxx. 10 ; Ezek. i.1-3.

8 Amos i. 1 ; Isa. ii. 1 ; xiii. 1 ; Hab. i. 1 ; ii. 1 ; comp. 2 Kings viii. 13.

9 Isa. i. 1 ; Ob. 1 : Nah. i. 1.


solutely none of the characteristics of a vision, that are
the result of reflexion. The name vision is given even
to a prophetic writing that contains historical narratives.^
It must, however, be acknowledged that in ancient
times the term vision was applied to visions properly
so called. In the passage already cited, Num. xii. 6-8,
revelation by visions and dreams is contrasted with
direct revelation, received by Moses in a conscious
state, and the latter is evidently regarded as more per-
fect than the former. In imitation of this passage we
feel obliged to distinguish between two different points
of view with reference to prophetic revelation, the
primitive and imperfect on the one hand, and, on the
other, the higher, which appears in the prophetic books.
We have seen that dreams and visions play an impor-
tant part in early prophetism, and that it was disfigured
by other imperfections. But, under the influence of
the spirit of God, prophetism developed ; it freed itself,
little by little, from the vulgar art of divination that
it might fulfil a nobler mission. The seers became
prophets, God's interpreters among men. Then dreams
and visions, so far from being considered the means of
revelation jt?ar excellence^ were rather disparaged as an
inferior or even unreliable source of revelation; they
were contrasted with the genuine word, to which they
were as the chaff to the wheat. ^ It is only the book of
Daniel, an apocalypse, by the way, and not a prophecy,
in which dreams and visions again play an important
part. 2

1 2 Chron. xxxii. 32.

2 Jer. xxiii. 25-32 ; xxvii. 9 ; xxix. 8 f. ; Zech. x. 2 ; Deut. xiii. 1 ff.
2 ii. ; iv. : vii. f . : x.-xii.


It is wrong, therefore, to conclude from Num. xii.
6-8 that no prophet except Moses received divine
revelation otherwise than by dreams and visions. This
is ignoring numerous facts on the testimony of a single
statement. If, instead of seeing in this passage a dog-
matic and infallible assertion, we regard it from the
historical point of view, we shall reach the following
conclusion. Since it forms part of document A, it
belongs to the period of early prophetism, when inspi-
ration was inseparable from a sort of ecstasy, when
dreams and visions were the customary means of reve-
lation. Our author, however, had sufficiently sound
ideas to perceive the imperfections of such a prophet-
ism, and took pains to show that Moses had received
revelations of a higher and purer sort. Thus it appears
that ancient prophetism was early felt to be imperfect.

All this shows that those who claim that, the prophets,
when inspired, were in an ecstatic and semi-conscious
condition, have in mind primitive and imperfect proph-
etism, and that they ignore the growth of prophetism
from the divinatory and visionary to the higher stage
that we have shown it to have attained. The two kinds
of Christian inspiration that St. Paul describes, 1 Cor.
xiv., evidently have a close analogy with the two kinds
of prophetism in ancient Israel, and, as the apostle
places simple evangelical preaching above glossolaly, so
we must place simple prophetic preaching above the
earlier ecstatic prophetism. Riehm says, and justly,
that the more ecstatic prophetic inspiration is, the more
nearly it is related to an inferior stage of prophetism. ^
And Bertheau declares, with no less justice, that the
1 Messianic Prophecy, p. 25.


history of prophetism shows that the less constantly the
prophets enjoyed communion with God, the more they
were inclined to represent the divine power as an ex-
ternal force taking possession of them and making
them mere instruments of its will.^


We must now explain the essential principles of the
theology of the prophets, if indeed the employment of
so pretentious an expression is allowable. As a matter
of fact the prophets had no theology. They were
preachers, not theologians. They were men of action,
and not theorists or scientists. What engrossed them
was practical life, not theories, abstract ideas, and still
less a theological system. One finds in their works
profound thoughts, grand religious and moral princi-
ples, but not a theology properly so called. It is,
therefore, better to speak simply of the religion of the
prophets than of their theology as it is the custom
to do.

The fundamental idea of the religion of the prophets is
that of the covenant of Jehovah with Israel ; this appears
from every age of their writings. We have already
discussed it in the preceding pages, because from the
beginning it lies at the foundation of the religion of
Israel. What we now have to examine is, first of all,
the idea that the prophets formed of the God of the cov-
enant. For the one that we have hitherto met is not

1 Jahrhucher fur deutsche TheoL, 1859, p. 610; comp. Kohler, Der
Proplietismus der Hehrder und die Mantik der Griechen, p. 97 ; [W.
R. Smith, Prophets, pp. 219 ff.].


that of our period. The prophets have risen to the idea
of the absolute unity of God; they have generally
attained to much purer conceptions of the Deity than
the early Israelites.

I. Unity of God.

When did the Israelites begin to free themselves
from primitive and imperfect notions to rise to pure
monotheism? Baudissin, in the excellent treatise which
he has devoted to this subject, reaches the conclusion
that Israelitish monotheism passed through three suc-
cessive phases : it originally consisted in the worship of
a single national god, and did not exclude the existence
of other gods ; in this form it existed perhaps among the
Hebrews before Moses ; later, especially after the prophet
Hosea, they rose to the belief in a single God, but con-
sidered solely in his relations to Israel; finally, at the
time of Jeremiah, they attained to strict monotheism,
to the idea of a single God for all the peoples of the
earth. 1 We must examine this question more closely.

Document A represents Jehovah as the Creator of
the universe, and the God of the parents of the human
race, 2 as the Lord of the world, ^ who destroys again, by
the deluge, all that exists,* who confounds the speech
of all men, and scatters them over the whole earth. ^
whose name and power must be heralded everywhere,^
who judges all the earth,' and executes his decrees

1 Studien, L pp. 175 ff. ; [Montefiore, pp. 134 ff. ; 214 ff.].

2 Gen. ii.-iv.

3 Gen. xiv. 19, 22 ; xxiv. 3, 7 ; Ex. ix. 29 ; xix. 5 ; Num. xiv. 21 ;
Deut. xxxii. 8, 22 ; Josh. ii. 11 ; iii. 11, 13.

4 Gen. vi. 5 ff. ^ Gen. xi. 1-9.

6 Ex. ix. 16 ; Josh. iv. 24. 7 Qen. xviii. 25.


among all nations, ^ who is truly the God of the spirits of
all fiesh.2

Here, then, in document A, are universal conceptions
sufficiently decided to seem to imply strict monotheism,
the idea that Jehovah is the sole God of the entire world.
It is not, however, absolutely certain that this is the
case. In ancient times the creator of heaven and earth
was not necessarily regarded as the only God, but only
as the supreme God.^ Alongside of him there was room
for other gods, quite as real as he, but inferior to him in
power and dignity. Baudissin justly remarks that all
the heathen peoples, although they believed in the reality
of foreign gods, narrated the history of primitive human-
ity as if their gods had ruled alone at that time ; that
there is no essential difference between this point of
view and that taken by document A in the first chap-
ters of Genesis.*

It is the same with the control over other peoples
attributed to Jehovah. It implies only the idea that
he is a God of incomparable might, that no other god
equals him in power. This is the way in which the
old song, Ex. XV., views the subject. It sings the
might of Jehovah, who manifests himself in the anni-
hilation of the Egyptian army, and the deliverance of
the children of Israel, but without rising above the idea
expressed in the sentence : " Who is like thee among
the gods, O Jehovah?"^ It must, moreover, be ob-
served that when Jehovah executes his decrees upon
other nations, it is generally in favor of Israel; so

1 Gen. xii. 17 ; xviii. f. ; xx. 1 ff. ; Ex. xv. ; vii. 14 ff. ; etc.

2 Num. X. 22 ; xxvii. 16. ^ See Gen. xiv. 19, 22.
* Studien, I. pp. 163 f. ; [Schultz, I. pp. 182 ff.].

^ V. 11 ; comp. Deut. xxxiii. 26 f.


that, even in this respect he appears simply as the
national God, as the Gocl of his chosen people.^

What allows us, however, to suppose that even be-
fore Hosea certain minds in Israel had already attained
to pure monotheism, is that, in the song found Deut.
xxxii., which probably belongs to an earlier day, idols
are treated as not-gods and vanities,^ and Jehovah
alone is declared God.-^ In other passages, which are
of at least as early a date as document A, we find this
same declaration, that besides Jehovah there is no God.*
Baudissin seeks to restrict the force of some of these
passages,^ but he seems to us to be wrong.

If we turn to the early prophetical books, we find in
Amos the assertion that the foreign gods are simply
lies.^ Baudissin, it is true, thinks that this designa-
tion, as used by the prophet, does not imply that the
idols have no reality, but that they are not able to ren-
der their worshippers the help desired, and that they
disappoint the expectation placed in them.'^ In the
same prophecy Jehovah is also represented as the creator
of all that exists,^ and the judge of other nations as well
as of Judah and Israel.^ But, as we have already
seen, this does not necessarily mean that Jehovah is the
only God.

Hosea calls the calf of Samaria a not-god, that has
been fashioned by a workman. ^'^ He says of idols : " They
are all the work of artisans, "^^ and elsewhere: "We

1 Comp. Baudissin, StucUen, I. pp. 158 ff. ; [Schultz, I. pp. 181 f .].

2 vv. 17, 21. 3 ^,. 39.

4 1 Sam. ii. 2 ; 2 Sam. vii. 22 ; xxii. 32 ; comp. Ps. xviii. 31.

5 Studien, I. pp. 72, 101. « ii. 4.

■^ Studien, I. p. 100. » iv. 13 ; v. 8 ; ix. 6. » i. f . ; ix. 5 ff.

10 viii. 5 f . ; comp. v. 4. " xiii. 2.


will no longer say to the work of our hands : Our God ! " ^
or: "The people consult their stock. "^ He says, ad-
dressing Israel in the name of Jehovah: "Thou knowest
no God but me, and there is no saviour besides me."^

Isaiah and the contemporary prophets also represent
idols as the work of men's hands.* In their writings
Jehovah appears as the lord of all peoples, and the
governor of the entire world, ^ as the one who will
sometime be worshipped by all nations.^ Isaiah calls
idols simply elilim, things of nought.''

But according to Baudissin, this does not prove that,
for the prophets, these deities have no existence ; they
teach but one thing, i.e. that, for Israel, idols are inani-
mate images, that can give the people of Jehovah no aid;
when they declare that all peoples will turn to the God
of Israel, they mean simply that the gentiles will aban-
don the worship of their own gods to worship Jehovah
because he is a greater God; the promises in question
do not go so far as to say that these gods do not exist;
Jeremiah and Deuteronomy are the first to teach posi-
tively that, besides Jehovah, there is no God.^

We cheerfully admit that from the time of Jeremiah
the absolute nothingness of all gods besides Jehovah
was better understood and the unity of God asserted
more categorically in Israel,^ while more stress was laid

1 xiv. 3. 2 iv. 12. 3 xiii. 4.

* Isa. ii. 8 ; xvii. 8 ; xxxi. 7 ; Mic. v. 13.

5 Isa. X. 5 ff. ; xv. ff. ; Mic. iv. II ff. ; Zech. ix. 1 ff.

6 Mic. iv. 1 ff. ; Isa. ii. 2-4 ; xviii. 7 ; xix. 18-25.

7 ii. 8, 18, 20 ; x. 10 f. ; xix. I, 3; xxxi. 7.

8 Studien, I. pp. 109, 166 ff. ; [Montefiore, Lectures, pp. 214 ff.].

" Deut. iv. 35, 39 ; vi. 4 ; Isa. xliii. 10-12 ; xliv. 6, 8 ; xlv. 5 f., 14,
18, 21 f. ; xlvi. 9.


upon the nothingness of idols. ^ But we are inclined
to think that even before that, from the time of Amos
and Hosea, perhaps an earlier date, as seems to be
taught by some passages of document A and the books
of Samuel, certain minds had risen to the idea that
Jehovah alone is truly God. We will admit that this
idea found expression only at intervals, and at first
waked but a faint echo in Israel ; that the early prophets
considered first of all the relations existing between
Jehovah and Israel and sought to impress upon Israel
the duty of serving only Jehovah. But we have the
conviction that for Isaiah, who repeatedly declares that
idols are only things of naught, for Hosea, who reiter-

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