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Where there female prophets of the Bible? Yes! There certainly were! There are at least seven (maybe eight – but we’ll get to that in a minute). Not including, of course, false prophets.
First, however, let’s examine what a prophet is, biblically.
Prophets Of the Bible
Often when people think of prophets, they think of someone who can predict the future or see the future. While that is partially true, a biblical prophet is much more than just the ability to see the future.
While the priest represents the people before God and takes their petitions to Him, the prophet represents God to people. In the Old Testament a prophet would face the people and speak. Jesus was a prophet who spoke the Word of God to the people and was, in fact, the Word incarnate. A prophet speaks for God. (For more on this topic see: The Difference Between Priests and Prophets)
A prophet is, essentially, a spokesman for God, as chosen by Him. They are tasked with speaking to the people on God’s behalf, by sharing a message or even teaching.
While a prophet speaks to people on behalf of God, a priest speaks to God on behalf of people.
The Hebrew word for a prophet, is navi (נָבִיא) is one of two used in the Bible describing a prophet. The other is the word choze (חוֹזֵה), which is translated as ‘seer.’
The term, navi (Nun-Beit-Yod-Alef,) comes from the phrases niv sefatayim meaning “fruit of the lips” which relates to the prophets role as speaker to the people.
The Talmud mentions that there were many prophets (possibly hundreds of thousands) but most of them shared messages intended only for their own generation and not reported in scripture. The Bible identifies only 55 actual prophets, of which seven were women. Additionally, some prophets were designated to speak mainly to gentiles (such as Jonah).
For the purpose of this post, we won’t cover those women identified as false prophets (including Noadiah).
Female Prophets Of the Bible
As mentioned above, scripture identifies seven women prophets. We will also cover another, that is largely considered to be a prophetess in Judaic teachings, but is not, expressly described as one in scripture.
The prophecy of female prophets have inspired both men and women in difficult or confusing circumstances. They have shown leadership, vision, initiative and held roles greater than our modern society would have expected.
These amazing women were from all walks of life and tribes, but each has a story to inspire.
We’ll take a short look at each and you can learn more about each of them by clicking the link in the appropriate section.
We’ll also cover just a few of the relevant verses in scripture where these women are named as prophets or prophetess.
Before we jump in, without looking, how many female prophets of the Bible can you name? I was able to think of 5, but fell short. How about you?
The Prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shullam (keeper of King Josiah’s wardrobe), is perhaps one of the least known of the seven women prophets in scripture.
At a time when Zephaniah was prophesying in the synagogues and Jeremiah prophesying in the marketplaces, Huldah was prophesying to the women. Some texts also suggest that she have may also trained King Josiah as a child.
The king’s court called on her to prophesy to the king and she gave this message:
"Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.
She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse[b] and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
So they took her answer back to the king.
2 Kings 22:14-20
Although scripture does not specifically mention Abigail as a prophetess, many other religious texts support this.
In Judaism, she is, indeed, considered a female prophet.
Abigail’s appeal to David in 1 Samuel 25:24–31, which predicts his military victory over his enemies and his future as king over Israel, was perceived as prophecy.
"She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.
“Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
1 Samuel 25:24–31
Anna is mentioned in the Bible as a prophetess and one of the people mentioned as connected to Jesus’ childhood. She was the daughter of Penuel from the tribe of Asher. Her name, is translated as “favor” or “grace.”
All we know of her is found in three verses in the New Testament book of Luke. .
"There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." - Luke 2:36-38
Hannah praised God for her blessing as she dedicated him. She thanked God for His sovereignty. And at the end of her prayer, we find evidence of God’s plan for the salvation of all mankind.
"those who oppose the Lord will be broken.The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” - 1 Samuel 2:10
I truly enjoy studying the women of the Bible and have always been inspired by Esther. What about you?
Do you think that we have modern day female prophets among us? Have you encountered one?
What was one thing you learned from this post on women prophets in the Bible? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email me at: [email protected]
For further study on female prophets of the Bible, you may wish to consider these recommended resources. Click on the image to take you to the Amazon listing for the book.
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Because He Lives,