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of the Bible.

The term prophetes in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) and in the New Testament conveys the Hebrew nabhi, which in ancient Palestine referred to a preacher who while in a state of ecstasy predicted the future in the name of god. In the eighth century B.C. the term also came to be applied to religiopolitical orators and preachers. The most eminent prophets of the ninth century B.C. were Elijah and his disciple Elisha, who by their denunciations came into conflict with royal authority. Grouped around them were young prophets—called sons of the prophets—who lived in various cities, such as Bethel and Jericho. The figure of Elijah subsequently played a major role in Jewish and Christian eschatology.

The complication of social relations and the profound exacerbation of sociopolitical conflicts in Israel and Judah led to the rise in the eighth century B.C. of what was called the prophets’ movement, of which the major spokesmen were Amos, Ho-sea, Isaiah (so-called Proto-Isaiah), and Micah in the eighth century B.C.; Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habbakuk in the seventh century B.C., and Ezekiel, so-called Deutero-Isaiah, Haggai, and Zechariah in the sixth century B.C. Sharply exposing the crimes of the rich and the power of the propertied classes, the prophets inveighed against the dispossession of the peasants from the land and the oppression and arbitrary treatment of the lower social strata. The prophets called for the renunciation of war and predicted the victory of social justice in the future, when men would “beat their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah). The prophets’ demands for the centralization of worship in accord with the universalism of Yahweh and ethical monotheism objectively promoted centralization and royal authority. The prophets affirmed the superiority of a moral-ethical foundation over worship as such, with its bare ritualism and the sacrifice of animals.

The religiopolitical speeches, sermons, and oracles (predictions) of the prophets were first given orally. Afterward, they were written down and collected into anthologies, which gradually were supplemented and combined (not always in the chronological order of their composition) into separate books, which were edited for the final time evidently in the period of the rule of the Achaemenids in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. By their size the books of the prophets are conventionally divided into major and minor ones. The three major books of the prophets that are extant are Isaiah (consisting of the works of two and possibly three authors who lived at different times), Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. There are 12 minor prophets.

The prophets’ works are distinguished by the richness and vividness of poetic language. They were an important contribution to the development of classical Hebrew language and literature. Prophetic literature greatly influenced later Jewish sectarian (Essene-Qumranite) and Christian ideology and literature. The prophets were referred to by Christian heretical movements in the Middle Ages, ideologists of peasant wars and other popular movements, and the Utopian socialists.


Heaton, E. W. The Old Testament Prophets. Harmondsworth, 1958.
Eissfeldt, O. “The Prophetic Literature.” In The Old Testament and Modern Study. Edited by H. H. Rowbey. Oxford [1961].
Fohrer, G. Geschichte der israelitischen Religion. Berlin [1968].


References in classic literature ?
I wouldn't be used to such grand people as the patriarchs and prophets, and I would be sheepish and tongue-tied in their company, and mighty glad to get out of it.
Passepartout was now the only person left in the car, and the Elder, looking him full in the face, reminded him that, two years after the assassination of Joseph Smith, the inspired prophet, Brigham Young, his successor, left Nauvoo for the banks of the Great Salt Lake, where, in the midst of that fertile region, directly on the route of the emigrants who crossed Utah on their way to California, the new colony, thanks to the polygamy practised by the Mormons, had flourished beyond expectations.
That is what mighty cities declare; and the children of the gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like testimony.
They say "Go up, baldhead" to the prophet going his unoffending way in the gray of antiquity; they sass me in the holy gloom of the Middle Ages; and I had seen them act the same way in Buchanan's administration; I remember, because I was there and helped.
The hero took fire at this proposal, and answered with the highest indignation that nothing should make him forsake his heavenly Master to follow an impostor, and continued in the severest terms to vilify their false prophet, till Mahomet struck off his head.
said I, "thing of evil -- prophet still, if bird or devil
No prophet had told him, and he was not prophet enough to tell himself, that essentially this young wife of his was as deserving of the praise of King Lemuel as any other woman endowed with the same dislike of evil, her moral value having to be reckoned not by achievement but by tendency.
 "O servant of the Prophet," said the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk
It was in virtue of his sincerity, of his speaking still in some sort from the heart of Nature, though in the current artificial dialect, that Johnson was a Prophet.
Human creatures who had left the terrestrial sphere, and returned after this strange voyage into celestial space, could not fail to be received as the prophet Elias would be if he came back to earth.
Kalon the Prophet was already erect, with argent garments and uplifted hands, and the sound of his strangely penetrating voice could be heard all the way down the busy street uttering his solar litany.
Every series of evolutions, according to them, was presided over by a prophet; and every prophet had his 'Hazar,'--his dynasty of a thousand years.