Speaking of Abraham in Genesis 20:7, God warns Abimelek:

Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.

As far as I can tell this is the only use of the word in Genesis. Abraham strikes me as somewhat different than the classical prophets, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, or even Moses. In what sense are we to understand the term? Are there episodes in the narrative that particularly highlight this aspect or role of Abraham's?

  • It might be interesting to note that in Islam, closely related, the term is used more broadly than we would expect as well when looking back to the same characters. For example, Lot is described as a prophet (and I've even read a pamphlet using this fact to argue that the Hebrew Bible as corrupted since how could a prophet be accused of incest -- a very different view of prophets than the Hebrew one in which they are very much flawed human beings). – Luke Sawczak Mar 2 '19 at 12:11
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    The MT text say explicitly "prophet", so how can there be a question? Abraham has a call to prophecy like later prophets, was told the future as in Genesis 15:23 and he communicated God's word to his offspring, servants and neighbors. I think that this question needs more definition. In what way is Abraham different from other OT prophets? The really interesting question in this verse is whether Avimelech was a prophet. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Mar 2 '19 at 18:46
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    @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim The locutionary aspect of a text is not the same thing as the illocutionary aspect. The MT says "prophet". So what? What does that mean? Since Abraham is the first person called "prophet" in the canon, presumably he is the model for the other OT prophets and not the other way around. If so, in what way does he model the role? – Soldarnal Mar 2 '19 at 20:05
  • It is not clear what you are asking. What does "somewhat different than the classical prophets" mean? Abraham isn't classical? Where is the difference? If the MT says Abraham was a prophet, then that in fact provides an example of what a prophet is; a calling, revealed knowledge; a teaching. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Mar 2 '19 at 20:12
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    @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim No, Abraham is considered before even the pre-classical prophets – Soldarnal Mar 3 '19 at 1:52

The way that Jeremiah describes a true prophet

“For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭23:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Is one who has stood in the council of the Lord and has seen and heard His word.

As to whether or not this is done in the divine council described by Micaiah 2 Chronicles 18 or in the physical form when Abraham was visited by God, Genesis 18 taking the form of three persons (and not God and two angels) remains to be discussed.

However by the definition given by Jeremiah it would qualify Abraham as a prophet being in the council of God and hearing His words which Abraham passed onto his descendants and is recorded for us to read today.

In my view Abraham definitely entered the heavenly divine council and heard the voice of God as did other prophets of old (in the spirit).

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    See also Moses' definition in Numbers 11:29: that the Lord puts his spirit on a person. – Luke Sawczak Mar 2 '19 at 12:07
  • In TWO places at the same time >>“Elijah said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today."” ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭18:15‬ >>“Elisha said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:14‬ >>“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:13‬ >>“And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:6‬ – Nihil Sine Deo Mar 2 '19 at 12:20

It seems to me that the lynch pin to this issue is the use & understanding of the word "prophet" in the 1st Cent. & before, as it had a more faceted meaning than that of latter times in 'Christian' circles. On top of that, during our 20th/21st century it is primarily applied to a person who foretells the future exclusively, whereas in the 1st century and before this was not the case.

We have to try and understand the scriptures with the eyes and mind of persons that live at that time according to the culture & customs etc. of their day not ours. It would seem that the word "prophet"* had/has the emphasis on forthtelling* not on foretelling or to quote from the 'Lexicon to the Old and New Testaments' Ed. by Spiros Zodhiates, TH.D in 'The Hebrew-Greek Study Bible', AMG Pub. page 172:-

"A prophet prophesies, but one who prophesies is not necessarily a prophet"**.

*or "forth" and "to speak" or "one who speaks forth openly."-'Vine's Expos. Dic. of Bi. Words' pp. 492-3

*Note: The Hebrew word translated by the into the word "prophet" is "nabi" which has the same basic meaning as the Greek "prophet" which is "one who speaks for another, or "his mouth." (Vine's Expos. Dic. of Bi. Words' pp. 190) which obviously includes telling of future events but not exclusively that, e.g. Ex. 4:16, 7:1. Also see the foot note no Ex. 7:1 in the N.I.V. study Bible.

**N.W.T. Titus 1:12 "A certain one of them, their own prophet*, said: “Cre'tans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, unemployed gluttons.”"

*Epimenides, a Cretan POET of the sixth cent. B.C.E.

I think it makes the point that how we today see the usage and meaning of ancient words is not how they where used or understood in or about the 1st century or before that time. My research shows me that "prophet" (and related words) have a much more extensive meaning than that which is common to us today. A prophet would seem to be a person of wisdom, an interpreter for the inspired oracle, a preacher of God's word or will (e.g. spokesman), a poet, and lastly a foreteller of events. Thus Abraham was a "Prophet" in that he did all of the above a a patriarchal Head of a Godly family and a forefather God's old nation of Israel which would lead to The Messiah and the Christian congregation speaking of God's promise to him and his offspring:-

NWT Romans 4:16, 17 "That is why it is through faith, so that it might be according to undeserved kindness, in order for the promise to be sure to all his offspring, not only to those who adhere to the Law but also to those who adhere to the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. 17 (This is just as it is written: “I have appointed you a father of many nations.”) . . ."

  • Also note 1 Sam 9:8-9 with its note on "prophet" vs. "seer", suggesting that only at a later period did the word "prophet" come to subsume "seer" (of the future). – Luke Sawczak Mar 3 '19 at 2:56

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