The Biblical Meaning of Being a Prophet of YHVH
The Biblical concept of prophecy and prophet of YHVH should not be confused with the divination or fortunetelling found among the pagan peoples.
The Hebrew word נָבִיא navi, prophet, comes from the verb נָבָא nava and is usually mistranslated by the word “prophet” which, according to Greek etymology, means “one who predicts the future.”
On the contrary, the Hebrew word navi has the meaning of one who has the role to “create (bara) the produce נֵיב (neiv) of the lips” (Isa 57:19). The Hebrew word for “produce” can be spelled in one more way: נוֹב nov, but has the same meaning.
It comes from the verb נוּב nuv and means to germinate, hence to give fruits.
Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith the LORD that createth the fruit of the lips; and I will heal him. (Isa 57:19 JPS)
It can be found in only one more place in Mal 1:12 where it is used with its literal meaning.
But ye profane it, in that ye say: ‘The table of the LORD is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even the food thereof, is contemptible.’ (Mal 1:12 JPS)
The Hebrew word behind “create” is the same word, bara, used in Gen 1:1 when Elohim created, but more literally filled up the heavens and the earth. For more understanding of the Hebrew word bara and whether the Creator has really created the universe from nothing, the reader may refer to the article Einstein’s Equation Encoded in Genesis.
So Yehovah said to Mosheh, “See, I have made you a mighty one to Pharaoh, and Aharon your brother is your prophet. (Exo 7:1)
And he (Aharon) shall speak for you to the people. And it shall be that he shall be a mouth for you, and you shall be a mighty one for him. (Exo 4:16)
Thus, we see that the navi is the one who (1) fills up, the one who gives substance of YHVH’s Word, that is, (2) he is YHVH’s interpreter (spokesperson), charged with producing a message, positive or negative, to Israel. The best way to understand the office of a prophet of YHVH is to see the life of such persons such as Mosheh (Moses) and Eliyahu (Elijah). But the greatest one among all prophets is the one about whom YHVH said through Mosheh:
I shall raise up for them a Prophet like you out of the midst of their brothers. And I shall put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. (Deu 18:18)
This prophet is clearly Yehoshua the Messiah as referred to in Act 3:22-26 and Act 7:37.
Therefore, we see that the Biblical concept of “prophecy” נְבוּאָה nevuah, is quite different from what it is being interpreted nowadays. The role of a prophet is to bring the people back to the Covenant of YHVH and the Torah observance when they went astray. And this role has been best fulfilled by the Messiah who with His blood ratified the Covenant between YHVH and His people. For more insight on this role of the Messiah, the reader may refer to the articles Has the Messiah Abolished the Law? and The Appointed Times of YHVH—the Festival of the Unleavened Breads and the Messiah.
It is true, however, that when Israel did not listen to the navi’s produce of the lips, he foretold Israel’s future which had not always been a pretty good picture.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.