THE PEOPLE & THE BOOK: Prophets then and now

That this might have actually been the seal of one of the greatest prophets of Israel raised many thoughts about the work of the prophets in general and about the meaning of their teachings.

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May 4, 2018 00:22
Illustration by Pepe Fainberg

Illustration by Pepe Fainberg. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)

THE RECENT reports of the finding of an ancient seal from the days of the First Temple containing the name ‘Yeshayahu’ (Isaiah) followed by the letters nun-betyod, which are the first three letters in the Hebrew word navi (prophet) intrigued and excited me (the seal was broken off where the next letter aleph might have appeared completing the word). That this might have actually been the seal of one of the greatest prophets of Israel raised many thoughts about the work of the prophets in general and about the meaning of their teachings.

If this seal is indeed his, it certainly indicates that at least in some cases, being a prophet was actually an occupation. According to Chapters 37 and 39 in the Book of Isaiah, where Isaiah is consulted by the king and gives him God’s message, it seems clear that Isaiah was at very least the semi-official prophet of the monarchy, serving King Hezekiah. The seal might very well have been a kind of ancient calling card that identified him as “Isaiah, prophet by appointment of His Majesty King Hezekiah.”

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