What exactly are prophets? Prophets did not speak. God spoke through their mouths! That’s why the Qur’an says (Sura 33: 59), ‘O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; ….’ So Muslims believe, that God spoke through Muhammad’s mouth, even to Muhammad himself.
How does the Tanakh portray prophets?
1. Sam. 19 tells us how King Saul pursued David. David had fled to Ramah. He was living with some prophets and Samuel was the foremost among them. So King Saul sent messengers to get David.
Verse 20, ‘And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing [as] appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.’
Furthermore Saul sent another two lots of messengers, every time with the same result. Finally Saul went himself to take David. Now this tells us explicitly how prophets acted. When he arrived (Verses 23 & 24), ’… and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, [is] Saul also among the prophets?’
So that’s what prophets do!
There were also prophetesses.
Isa. 8: 3: And I (Isaiah) went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, ….
So this is how the presence of the LORD is found!!! Now Miriam, the sister of Moses, was a prophetess (Ex. 15: 20). The Tanakh does not mention her owner or husband. (The word for husband really means owner, as in owner of an ox. There is no word for wife either in Hebrew. King James has translated the word for woman as wife, when he saw fit.) Some rabbinical literature claims that Miriam was married to Caleb, but the Tanakh does not mentioned this. Some even say that Hur was her son, but 1. Chr. 2: 19 contradicts this.
The Tanakh also does not mention any offspring of her. An Ancient tribe would have looked down upon a woman without children. They would have regarded her as not pulling her weight in the tribe’s struggle for survival.
These circumstances may well mean, that this prophetess helped others to come into the presence of God. Through this activity she then brought forth children. However, since she did this so frequently with many different men, the fathers of her children were unknown. The Tanakh would not mention these children because they would not belong into a male line of genealogy. In Gen. 5 for example only one son of every patriarch is named. However then it says, ‘And he begot sons and daughters!’
may even have been particularly good at bringing men close to God. After all she had dedicated her life to this. Men owned women in those days and those might wear themselves out from their daily labour. Furthermore some men ‘knew’ their women. The chapter ‘The Original Sin’ in Greetings from Paradise explains the meaning of the expression ‘to know a woman’. Such a women had to bear an heir for her owner. Therefore this owner would take every precaution to ensure that nobody else made this woman pregnant. Only sons of known women would be mentioned in the Tanakh.
The only exception
is the judge Jephthah (Jdg. 11: 1). He was the son of a zanah. King James translated harlot. There is a chapter called, ‘Do Not Prostitute Thy Daughter’ in Greetings from Paradise. This actually is a commandment (Lev. 19: 29). There is a discussion of the meaning of the word zanah in that chapter. It appears that these women were priestesses of other gods or goddesses. And the worship of these deities involved sex.
Now Jdg. 11: 1 calls Jephthah ‘the Gileadite’, i.e. of the tribe Gilead. Gilead means ‘rocky region’. This tribe would have found it hard to farm. They were robbers. When it says ‘Gilead begat Jephthah’ in this verse, it means that the men of this tribe had had sex with his mother. Gilead might stand here for a forefather. There is an explanation in the chapter ‘The Zera’ in Greetings from Paradise about the Ancient view on reproduction. The Ancients thought that the ejaculation from the penis is an early form of the complete child. They saw the mother as an empty container. Further they saw themselves in their own sons! In so far Jephthah was the son of Gilead. So Gilead through his descendants begat Jephthah, through many of them.
Ex. 19 may even go as far as to ask men to save themselves up for God’s presence through abstinence. As Moses expected the appearance of God, he said to the people:
Ex. 19: 11: And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
Ex. 19: 15: Be ready against the third day: come not at women.
King James translated ‘your wives’, but the word ‘your’ he inserted and the word ishah just means woman.
There are other examples in which the presence of God is conjured up by sexual arousal. Where did Abraham’s servant put his hand? In Gen. 24: 9, when Abraham took a very important oath. The same procedure of oath is in Gen. 47: 29. The chapter ‘Ecstasy in Greetings from Paradise discusses these.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.