Stories of the Prophets – Prophets in Israel

The ancient prophets of Israel were holy men who pondered the ways of life from its noblest position. They were the particular output of the Hebrews’ spiritual wisdom and were teachers of righteousness who showed the house’s of Jacob and Israel their misdeeds and wrongdoings. For them morals and politics were the same, and virtue and spirituality were fused. The appeal for justice and their absolute desire for morality dominated their thoughts and words. Throughout history, their names have been beacons of light for people seeking the truth.

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The definition of the word prophet is “to speak for”. The ancient prophets spoke for Yahweh (Hebrew God) to the congregation of Israel, who were chosen to receive his message through their dreams and visions. Many prophets opposed the leaders of the time and were frequently greeted with hostility and ridicule for criticizing the direction the people were being led by their kings. During hard times they supported the people with words of hope and encouragement; and when things were going well, they warned the people about an impending doom if they failed to repent.

The Prophet Amos

Prophet Amos Statue

The Prophet Amos was a herdsman from the town of Tekoa in Judah who Yahweh called to prophesy in Israel during the middle of the eighth century B.C. Amos’ messages were offensive to Israel’s ruling authorities with its bitter comments targeted specifically at its aristocracy and royalty. Amos rebuked the privileged for making themselves wealthy by taking advantage of the poor and made it clear that their treatment of the poor would condemn them. He also changed the narrative of the prophetic conversation of truth and holiness, from concentrating on the congregation of Israel’s relationship with Yahweh to their behaviors towards one another. His message was never well received in Israel, and he was compelled to leave the religious center of Israel and return to Judah. See Amos 3:9-15 and 6:1-7.

The Prophet Elijah

The Prophet Elijah was an ancient Hebrew prophet whose accounts are chronicled in the Scriptures in First and Second Kings. Elijah’s prophecies include the story where he predicts the impending drought and scarcity and the subsequent time of bountiful food in the land. He’s also the prophet that won a contest against 450 seers of the pagan god Baal, before killing all of them. Likewise, it was Elijah, along with Moses, that appeared at Mount with the Messiah during his Transfiguration.

At the end of his life, Elijah did not die a natural death on earth; instead, he was taken up to the heavens on a chariot of fire. The Israelites consider Elijah as the greatest of the prophets, and to this day continue to look for the return of Elijah at every Passover celebration.

The Prophet Ezekiel

The Statue of the Prophet Ezekiel

Ezekiel was the 6th-century BCE ancient Hebrew prophet who wrote the Book of Ezekiel, which presents revelations referring to the imminent ruin of Jerusalem, and the subsequent repatriation to the homeland of Israel. He offered words of comfort to the downtrodden and expressions of requiring and judgment of the unrighteous and guaranteed redemption for the refugees who changed their behaviors.

Ezekiel was a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem before being taken to Babylon with other refugees in 597 B.C. when the Babylonians seized Jerusalem. The scriptural writings of Ezekiel chronicles what occurred 4 years afterwards while he resided in a Babylonian village when he was called to prophesy. He prophesied to the Hebrew refugees that Yahweh would demolish Temple because of their worship of false idols before the exile. The Temple was demolished 10 years afterwards by the Babylonians.

The Prophet Isaiah

Prophet Isaiah

The Prophet Isaiah was an ancient Hebrew prophet from the 8th-century BC who the Book of Isaiah is named after. Isaiah resided in Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian Exile. Isaiah was directly involved with the exile of the Hebrew people to Babylon and the ruin of Jerusalem. During that time Isaiah’s theology revolved around the giving the refugees hope and emphasizing that they must continue to trust in Yahweh. In addition to the many prophecies of Isaiah is an assemblage of fore warnings about the Suffering Servant.

In the year 734 B.C., Isaiah met with King Ahaz in Jerusalem and warned him of the impending hardships that were coming. Isaiah informed the king that the Davidic regime was still in Yahweh’s favor. Isaiah revealed to King Ahaz the sign to come involving a young woman who would give birth to a son named Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). This child represents Yahweh’s favor with the Davidic regime and also with King Ahaz. The Book of Matthew further explains that Isaiah’s directive to Ahaz was a presage about the coming of Yahusha the Messiah (Matthew 1:22–23).

The Book of Isaiah, as well as the Book of Jeremiah, are unique in the Hebrew scriptures for their focus on the “wrath of the Yahweh” as indicated in Isaiah 9:19 stating, “The land shall be burned up by the wrath of Yahweh of hosts, and the people shall be as the fuel for the fire.” A man shall not spare his brother.

The Prophet Jeremiah

Prophet Jeremiah in Congonhas Sanctuary

The Prophet Jeremiah was a 7th century B.C. ancient Hebrew prophet from a priestly household. Jeremiah contributed to the Israelites’ knowledge of truth, penitence, and prophecy. He is best known for his prophesy of “a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Another prophesy of note was when Yahweh told Jeremiah that “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” and “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says Yahweh, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31,33–34).

It was Jeremiah who aided King Josiah’s intentions to bring back the worship of the Yahweh, the true God, in Jerusalem. After King Josiah’s death, when the worship of false idols had returned to Jerusalem, Jeremiah was so critical of the Israelites that he was publicly scorned, arrested and imprisoned.

After the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem and banished the Hebrew king, Jeremiah attempted to lead King Nebuchadnezzar towards Yahweh, but his endeavors were futile. In 587 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar came back to Jerusalem and annihilated it, they took Jeremiah to Egypt by force where he continued to prophesy.

Isaac Landman

October 24, 1880 – September 4, 1946

Isaac Landman was born on October 24, 1880, in Sudilkov Russia, and died in Cincinnati, Ohio on September 4, 1946. He was an American Reform rabbi, playwright, poet and an active participant in the anti-Zionist movement. Landman and his brother, Michael Lewis Landman, wrote the popular Broadway play A Man of Honor.

Landman emigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1890, and earned a degree from Cincinnati’s Reform Hebrew Union College. He, along with the support of Simon Bamberger, Julius Rosenwald, and Jacob Schiff, established a Jewish farm colony in Utah in 1911. Landman wed Beatrice Eschner in 1913. During World War I he became the United States Army’s first Jewish chaplain ever stationed overseas.

He was a key player in promoting Jewish-Christian unity among the world’s Christian Churches. In 1918 he became editor of the American Hebrew Magazine, and was chosen as the ambassador of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Landman was against the Zionist movement. In 1922, he and Rabbi David Philipson were selected to present the Reform movement’s anti-Zionist stance to the US Congress’ House Committee on Foreign Affairs as they contemplated the Lodge–Fish proposition in backing the Balfour Declaration bill, which was universally backed by Congress and ratified by President Harding. Landman continued to publish many points of view in opposition to the agreement and to Zionism in his American Hebrew Magazine.

In 1931 he became Rabbi of Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim. In 1934 he started editing the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, which was published throughout the 1940s, in 10 volumes.

Works by Isaac Landman

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