The office of prophets as an emergency measure

01 July 2015

Initially there was not supposed to be a prophetic office in Israel. ‘Prophetism’ was considered to be part of work that the priests performed. Thus, the priests were seen to be acting as prophets. Generally speaking, the prophets of the Old Testament are described as people who preached the Word of God. In the same way, priests are generally described as people who fulfilled functions at the temple and whose task it was to sacrifice on behalf of the Israelites. This article, however, argues that Yahweh intended much more through the establishment and ministry of the priests than merely administer sacrifices. It is the contention that Yahweh ordained the office of priests to preach the Word of God or to give advice in accordance with the will of Yahweh as it is documented in the Torah. The article’s contribution to the subject of prophetism in Israel will begin by studying the chronological history of Israel as it is described in the Hebrew Bible. The terms prophet, prophecy and prophetism will also be examined as they are used in the Hebrew Bible. By doing so, the article will show that it was only when the priests failed in their prophetic calling or when Yahweh wanted to change the cult or political establishment that He called people from outside of the established cult to fulfil the role of prophet. Yahweh used the prophetic office in times of need. One may call it an emergency measure – in times when the priests failed in their calling.