Original Research

The office of prophets as an emergency measure

Joseph J. de Bruyn
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 1 | a673 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i1.673 | © 2013 Joseph J. de Bruyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 November 2012 | Published: 29 October 2013

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Joseph J. de Bruyn, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

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.

Die bedoeling was aanvanklik nie dat daar ’n profetiese amp in Israel moes wees nie. ‘Profetisme’ was veronderstel om deel van die priesterlike amp te wees. Die priesters het dus as profete opgetree. Oor die algemeen word die Ou-Testamentiese profete as persone beskryf wat die Woord van God verkondig het. Op ’n soortgelyke algemene wyse word priesters as persone beskryf wat hulle werk by die tempel verrig het en wie se taak dit was om namens die Israeliete te offer. Hierdie artikel argumenteer egter dat Jahwe oorspronklik met die instelling van die priesteramp meer as net offerdiens in gedagte gehad het. Jahwe het oorspronklik die priesteramp ingestel om die Woord van God te preek en om advies te gee in oorstemming met die wil van Jahwe soos dit in die Tora vervat is. In hierdie artikel word die chronologiese geskiedenis van Israel soos dit in die Hebreeuse Bybel beskryf word, bestudeer. Die terme profeet, profesie en profetisme soos in die Hebreeuse Bybel gebruik, sal ook beskryf word. In die bestudering van hiervan sal aangedui word dat Jahwe persone van buite die kultus slegs as profete aangestel het wanneer die priesters in hulle profetiese taak gefaal het of wanneer Hy verandering in die bestaande kultus of politieke stelsel te weeg wou bring. Jahwe het dus die profete-amp as noodmaatreël gebruik wanneer die priesters in hulle profetiese roeping gefaal het.


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