Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy


The Qur’an is the only book of revelation that includes within itself a theory of prophethood which includes other religions. According to the Qur’an there have always been, since the days of Adam, people inspired by Allah who urged their society and its leadership, to avoid destruction by turning away from its corrupt and unjust ways; and turn to the One God who created all humans.

The Qur’an mentions 25 prophets by name (most of them also known to non-Muslims) and Muslims believe there were about one hundred twenty-four thousand other prophets, whose names are now unknown. Of the 25 Prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an, only five revealed books of sacred scripture: and only the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospels of Jesus and the Qur’an of Muhammad are the revealed books of sacred scripture that are the bases for the three monotheistic religions that still flourish today (Abraham’s scripture no longer exists).

The Hebrew Bible, the first, and most extensive of all the sacred scriptures, is an anthology of dozens of different Prophetic books, written down over a thousand-year period. The pre-Mosaic Book of Genesis describes the activities of seven Prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The rest of the Torah describes the activities of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and Bala’am, a non-Jewish Prophet for hire.

There are 15 separate books of named Prophets, and Job and Daniel; and the history books in the Hebrew Bible describe more than a dozen additional prophets, the best-known being Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, the Prophetesses Huldah and Queen Esther. The Talmud (Megillah 14a) states:“Forty-eight male prophets and seven female prophets prophesied to the Jewish people, and they neither subtracted from nor added to [the commandments] written in the Torah, except for [Prophetess] Esther who added the Mitsvah [duty of reading] the Book of Esther.”.

The Hebrew Bible is also three times larger [419,687 words] than the Greek Bible [138,162 words] and five times larger than the Arabic Qur’an [77,797 words]. The Greek (Christian) Bible has only two named prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus, but Christians also consider the four Gospel writers, as well as Paul, John of Patmos, James the brother of Jesus, and others to be Divinely inspired. Since the Christian Bible has always included the Jewish Bible, Christians [and especially Protestants] have generally paid great scholarly attention to the Jewish prophets.

A good example of this is a new book published by Eisenbrauns entitled Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context [613 pages]. As the title indicates, the conflict between church and state goes back to the beginning of prophetic religion. The book contains 26 essays by University Bible Scholars that deal with the usually adversarial relationship between God’s Prophets and the ruling powers’ establishment.

One of the most interesting essays is ‘Prophecy in Transjordan: Balaam Son of Beor.’ This non-Jewish Prophet is the only Prophet [Torah Numbers 22-24] to also be described in an extra-biblical text, written on a wall in the archaeological site of Dayr Alla; where Balaam is described as a “seer of the Ilahin” [Hebrew Elohim]. Balaam says,” The Ilahin [gods] have gathered and the Shaddayin have set up an assembly” [page 158]. Shadai is a very ancient Hebrew name for the One God of Israel, rarely used outside the books of Genesis and Job.

This provides proof for the Qur’an’s claim that Jews were not the only people who had prophets inspired by Allah who urged their society and its leadership, to avoid destruction by turning away from society’s corrupt and unjust ways; and turning to the One God; although it has to be admitted that for 15 centuries, Jews were the world’s only ongoing community of monotheists.

Another interesting essay is about Prophet Hulda, who is the Prophet asked to authenticate a  newly discovered section of sacred scripture: Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the [King’s] secretary, “I have found {an ancient section of] the Book of the Torah in the house of the Lord.” Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it…and then read it before king Josiah. When the king heard the words of the Torah Book, he tore his clothes and king Josiah commanded Hilkiah the priest… “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found...” So Hilkiah the priest [with several other officials] went to Huldah the prophetess…and they talked with her.

“She said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me: “Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, [for] all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read [and not observed]. Because they [the rulers] have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place [the Palace and/or the Temple]”. (2 Kings 22:8-17)

Huldah the prophetess, was so greatly respected by the Jewish People that King Josiah asked her to authenticate the almost forgotten section of sacred text, probably from the Torah’s Book of Deuteronomy. King Josiah immediately instituted major reforms in accordance with the entire Torah. A similar event took place a couple of centuries later involving Ezra the scribe, which again led to the revival of ancient abandoned practices.

According to the Talmud (Megillah 14a) Huldah was one of "seven prophetesses," along with Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, and Esther. During the centuries following the end of each religion’s revelation, male believers lost their earlier religious respect for female public leadership; and rabbi, priests, and imams became a male only category. Hopefully, we all will learn better.

The advantage the Qur’an has, as the latest and shortest of the major monotheistic revelations are twofold. One; the Hebrew Bible is an anthology of dozens of different Prophetic books, written down over a thousand-year period. Two, the Hebrew Bible is also three times larger [419,687 words] than the Greek Bible [138,162 words] and five times larger than the Arabic Qur’an [77,797 words]. So it has been much easier to preserve the shorter text of the Qur’an.

But the reason that Jewish religious leaders and Prophets included these shameful accounts by Jewish historians is because they show how God continuously restores and guides the Jewish people’s spiritual development during both ups and downs.

The death of Prophet Muhammad ended the revelation of the Qur’an, so there was no opportunity to add material to the Qur’an from early Muslim historians about the Shi’a-Sunni split, and other shameful sectarian issues in the generations following the four righteous Caliphs.

As Allah's Messenger said shortly before his death: "You will surely follow the path trodden by those before you, step-by-step and inch-by-inch, so much so that if they went down into a lizard hole, you would follow them." We [companions] said, "Allah's Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians when you said, 'those before you'?" He said, "Who else?" (Muslim, Book of Knowledge).

 

Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is: www.rabbimaller.com. Rabbi Maller blogs in the Times of Israel. His book ‘Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi's Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism’ (31 articles previously published by Islamic web sites) is for sale ($15) on Amazon.


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  1 Comment   Comment

  1. sekwdc

    COMMENT ABOUT THE ARTICLE BY RABBI MALLER:
    Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy
    FEB 24, 2020

    The 2018 Book that Rabbi Miller refers to (Enemies and Friends) only covers Judaism and Christianity. It does not include Islam.

    Miller writes, “During the centuries following the end of each religion’s revelation, male believers lost their earlier religious respect for female public leadership; and rabbi, priests, and imams became a male-only category. Hopefully, we all will learn better.”

    Mallet appears to imply that Muslims will learn to follow the un-ORTHODOX lead of Jews and Christians into ordaining women as rabbis and priests. Many Protestant and Jewish religions have already done so, Catholics excepted.

    According to Avi Hein, “Most women rabbis today have been ordained from Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist seminaries. But a few Orthodox women have also become rabbis — and an effort is underway to incorporate more women into the Orthodox rabbinate.”
    SEE: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/a-history-of-women-s-ordination-as-rabbis

    MALLER also writes, “The advantage the Qur’an has, as the latest and shortest of the major monotheistic revelations are twofold.....So it has been much easier to preserve the shorter text of the Qur’an.”

    MALLER mistakenly credits Muslims for the fact that the Quran has been PRESERVED over the last 1400+ years. The Rabbi should inform his followers that Muslims do that take credit for such a heavy responsibility.
    I refer him to the Words of THE ALMIGHTY in Quran.com/15/9
    إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

    Dear Muslims, I advise you to read the non-Muslim comparative religious ideas on Islam with a microscope, and an electron one at that. They hope that Muslims will be nudged into the same type of innovations that Jews and Christians have introduced into their own religious traditions.