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So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)"- 1 Kings 18:2-4

Who were these prophets that Jezebel killed (not the ones that Obadiah saved) to the point where Elijah lamented that he was the "only prophet left" in the next chapter? Any extrabiblical tradition/commentary that touches on this topic?

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Moses spoke out in Numbers 11:29 saying :

Would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! [KJV]

Thus the prophets killed by Jezebel and those preserved by Obadiah may be no other than people faithful to Jehovah and unwilling to bow to an idolatrous rule.

It may be no more than a salutary expression indicating that those who did bow to Jezebel did not see (for a prophet is a 'seer'- I Samuel 9:9) what was happening around them. They had not the Spirit of the Lord upon them and did not discern the signs of their times.

  • I read that as a pious hope of a situation that did not exist – user25930 Jun 15 at 22:12
  • @Mac'sMusings Would that it were so, today, also. – Nigel J Jun 16 at 14:08
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There are several references to a "company of prophets" or "school of prophets" in the OT such as (not an exhaustive list):

  • 1 Sam 10:5 - When you enter the town, you will meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place. They will have …
  • 1 Sam 10:10 - When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a company of prophets was coming out to meet him. Then the spirit of God rushed upon …
  • 1 Sam 19:20 - When they saw a company of prophets prophesying with Samuel standing there as their leader, the spirit of God came upon Saul's messengers, …
  • 2 Kings 2:3 - The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?"
  • 2 Kings 4:1 - The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD.
  • 2 Kings 4:38 - While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, "Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets."
  • 2 Kings 6:1 - The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. …
  • 2 Kings 9:1 - The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, "Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and …

Thus, this company or school or prophets appear to have existed for some considerable time in Israel both before and after the Kingdom was divided. In 1 Sam 19 it is apparent that the prophets were students of Samuel Just what status they had and what ability they had is not stated. However, it appears that at least some them had divinely inspired insight according to 2 Kings 2.

We do not know but it is possible that these companies or schools or prophets were either part of or composed an early education system in Israel.

Therefore, it is quite likely that this company of prophets were either leaders or leaders in training and were at least occasionally quite numerous as suggested by 1 Kings 18 & 19 as there were then at least 7000 of them.

This is discussed a little further in https://www.gotquestions.org/school-of-prophets.html

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