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Latter Prophets: The Major and Minor Prophets. Also known as Classical Prophets Canonical Prophets Writing Prophets. Meaning of Prophet. Hebrew word “ nabi ” originated from Akkadian “ nabitu ” meaning “to call” Active meaning: to call out the message Passive: the one who is called

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latter prophets the major and minor prophets
Latter Prophets:The Major and Minor Prophets

Also known as

  • Classical Prophets
  • Canonical Prophets
  • Writing Prophets
meaning of prophet
Meaning of Prophet
  • Hebrew word “nabi ” originated from Akkadian “nabitu ”meaning “to call”
    • Active meaning: to call out the message
    • Passive: the one who is called
  • English word prophet comes from Greek “prophetes” meaning “to speak for, proclaim,” or “to speak beforehand, to foretell”
other terms for prophets
Other Terms for Prophets
  • Seer
  • Man of God
  • Watchman
  • Messenger of Yahweh
  • Man of the Spirit
major prophets
Major Prophets

Major and Minor Prophets are distinguished by the length of the books that bear their names

3 Major Prophets in Hebrew Bible

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
the twelve minor prophets

Hosea [before 721]


Amos [ca 793-740]


Jonah [2 Kgs 14:25]

Micah [ca 750-700]








The Twelve Minor Prophets
the minor prophets
The Minor Prophets…
  • Nahum [between 663 and 612]
  • Habakkuk [609-597]
  • Zephaniah [Josiah]
  • Haggai [520]
  • Zechariah [520 and 518]
  • Malachi [ca 486-450]
approximate chronology of the classical prophets
Approximate Chronology of the Classical Prophets
  • 8th century (pre-exilic)
    • Jonah son of Amittai [Jeroboam II; 2 Kgs 14:25]
    • Amos [Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II]
    • Hosea [before fall of Jehu’s dynasty]
    • Isaiah [Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah]
    • Micah [Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah]
chronology of the classical prophets
Chronology of the Classical Prophets
  • 7th century:
    • Zephaniah [Josiah];
    • Nahum [between 663 and 612];
    • Jeremiah [627-583];
    • Habakkuk [609-597; perhaps shortly after 605]
chronology of the prophets
Chronology of the Prophets
  • 6th century (exilic):
    • {Obadiah}
    • Ezekiel [593-571 or 570]
    • (Daniel [605-538, or considerably later])
    • (Isaiah 40-66 [ca. 550-538 (possibly later)]
  • Postexilic:
    • Haggai [520]
    • Zechariah 1-8 [520 and 518]
    • {Joel}
    • Malachi [btw ca. 486 and 450]
    • Zechariah 9-14;
    • {the book of Jonah} {} date not certain
factors determining the positioning of the twelve
Factors Determining the Positioning of the Twelve
  • Chronology: only approximately by century
  • Themes: LXX differs from MT in the ordering of the first 6 prophets to reflect different emphasis
  • House’s suggestion
    • sin of Israel and the nation
    • punishment of sin
    • restoration of both from that sin
3 key moments in israel s history
800 BC




722 BC Fall of Samaria

700 BC




600 BC

586 BC Fall of Jerusalem



538 BC Cyrus Decree


500 BC



400 BC




Isaiah 1-39







Isaiah 40-55

Haggai and Zechariah

Isaiah 56-66


3 Key Moments in Israel’s History
division among latter prophets
Division among Latter Prophets


  • Foretelling the disaster of Exile
  • Message of Judgment: to warn Israel and Judah of their sins
  • Against their contemporary cult
  • Change message after the Babylonian invasion
division among latter prophets1
Division among Latter Prophets


  • Look beyond disaster to more favorable divine purposes for Israel
  • Still have oracles that predict selective judgment
  • Moral teachers to exhort
  • Encourage the re-establishment of cult
the lachish ostraca vi

The Lachish Ostraca VI

Cf. Jer 38:4

Jere 38:4 (NASU) Then the officials said to the king, "Now let this man be put to death, inasmuch as he is discouraging the men of war who are left in this city and all the people, by speaking such words to them; for this man is not seeking the well-being of this people but rather their harm."


To my lord Ya’ush. May YHWH regard my lord with favor!

May good fortune attend thee just now! Who is thy servant, a dog, that my lord sent (him) the king’s [letter] and the letters of the princes, [saying]: “Read pray!” In truth, the words of the [prophets] are not good, in as much as they weaken the hands of the whole [people], and slacken the hands of the [men] who serve in the army…. …my lord, wilt thou not write to them, saying “Why do ye such a thing? …in Jerusalem… King… …As YHWH, thy God, liveth, since thy servant hath read the letters, thy servant no longer had…

the role of the prophets
The role of the prophets
  • Member of the divine council
  • Member of prophetic tradition
  • Speaker for God’s kingdom
  • Critic of human kingdoms
the characteristic of the prophets
The Characteristic of the Prophets
  • Ecstatic behavior
  • Called by God to speak God’s message
  • Moved by the Holy Spirit
  • Their lives set as paradigm
the themes of the prophets
The Themes of the Prophets
  • Theo centric
  • The condition of Israel
    • Sinful Worship
    • Failure of the leaders: King, Prophets, Priests, Judges
    • Social injustice against the poor
    • Treacherous business practices
    • Excess extravagance
  • Relationship between God and Israel
  • The future
true and false prophets
True and False Prophets

Criteria of validation:

  • When they misled people (Deut 13:2; 18:20; Jer 2:8; 23:27)
  • When their morals were loose (Jer 23:14)
  • When they practiced magic and divination (Isa 8:19; Jer 14:14)
characteristic of true and false prophets
Characteristic of True and False Prophets

True Prophets

False Prophets


Selective proclamation

Dependence on power structures

Members of a social institution

Guardians of status quo: monarchy, temple

Man-centered ethics

Popularity and power

  • Revelation
  • Holistic proclamation
  • Independence from power structures
  • Members of divine and social institution
  • Vision of the reality of God’s kingdom
  • Theo centric ethics
  • Suffering for the sake of God
5 characteristics of the message of the prophets
5 characteristics of the message of the prophets
  • Preachers of the law of Moses
  • God’s delegates
  • The prophets as social reformers
  • The prophets as messengers of the oracles of God to the nations
  • The prophets as announcers of judgment and salvation

Judgment against Samaria and Jerusalem 1:2-2:11

Promise of deliverance 2:12-13

A. Judgment against Israel’s leader 3:1-12

Hope for Zion’s future 4:1-5

B. Remnant’s hope: restoration of ruler 4:6-8

C. Present dire situation in Zion with hope of deliverance 4:9-10

Present siege by nations but eventual victory 4:11-13

Present helpless judges and the future ideal king 4:14-5:5

B’. The future role of Israel’s remnants 5:6-8

A’. God’s future purge 5:9-13

Hope of deliverance in the future 5:14

God’s indictment against Israel 6:1-7:7

A prophetic liturgy: hopes and prayers 7:8-20

contemporary relevance of the prophets
Contemporary Relevance of the Prophets
  • Take the moral teaching of the prophets at their face value
  • We are summoned to repent and to execute a “U-turn” theology
  • The Messiah will come a 2nd time just as the prophets foretold he would come the first time
case study jer 31 15
Case Study: Jer 31:15
  • What is the historical meaning?
  • How does NT (Matt 2:18) reinterpret it?
  • How do we appropriate its message?