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In the Days of the Prophets PDF Version
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Introduction
Sea of Galilee
The Richard Cleave Collection
Overview:
The Jewish prophets were individuals considered to have been chosen to deliver God's divine message to the people and leadership of Israel. In the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, "the prophet is not a mouthpiece, but a person; not an instrument, but a partner, an associate of God."

The early prophets of Israel, known as pre-classical prophets, were prominently involved in politics and communal affairs and were consulted by Israel's leaders for advice. They were often seen as possessing clairvoyant insights and as being "miracle workers." This group of prophets includes Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, and Elisha.

The later classical or "literary" prophets (so named due to their highly developed poetic style) were men who, through inspired and articulate admonitions, preached to the people of Israel and Judah about the social and political ills of the time. Prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea warned of harsh divine punishment should the people not reform their behavior and obey God's commandments.

This lesson focuses on the period of the classical prophets, which spanned about 300 years, beginning a few decades before the fall of the kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE and ending about 100 years after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. Students will explore the circumstances that led to the rise of the classical prophets of Israel, who they were and what they preached, the impact of the prophets on the people and leaders of Israel, and the question of prophets in modern times.

Grade Level:
Middle School

Subjects Covered:
Biblical History, Ancient Civilization, World History, World Religions, Language Arts

Goals:
Students will learn about the role and function of biblical prophets and prophecy through individual, small-group, and whole class discussion and research activities. Students will demonstrate their knowledge through dramatic recitation and creative writing.

Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  • examine the roles and functions that prophets and prophecy played in ancient Israel;
  • explore the history of ancient Israel during the time of the Prophets;
  • analyze biblical texts and prophetic statements;
  • compare and contrast prophetic writings;
  • compose newspaper articles from the perspective of either a prophet or an ancient Israelite;
  • identify individuals working to address social and political ills in contemporary life -modern-day "prophets."

Suggested Time Frame:
Three to four 45-minute sessions

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