1 Samuel 9:18 - Saul's use of raw-aw' H7200 as a diminutive of prophet naw-bee' H5030

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Puritan Board Senior
I am intrigued by the insertion of the explanation that seers were now called prophets in [BIBLE]1 Samuel 9:9[/BIBLE] This comes before Saul refers to Samuel as a seer. I was intrigued by the way that the seer (soothsayer) as a lesser office. "...whereas a nabhi was specifically called by God for some purpose, a roeh or hozeh was merely a diviner of a rather unexhalted order..." (R.K. Harrison - Introduction to the OT - IVP, p 743).

This together with Saul's ignorance of Samuel as the preeminent prophet of his day AND his decision that 1/4 of a shekel was sufficient payment, may paint a picture of Saul viewing Samuel as a seer who could be hired at will.

Q. Is there any Hebrew nuance which speaks against this reading or for it?


Puritan Board Junior
... nabhi' [was] an appointed regular speaker for a divine superior, whose speech carries the authority of the latter.
pg. 192

The word 'seer' refers to an extra-ordinary influence brought to bear on the seeing-faculty of the prophet, by which he was made to see things, instead of hearing them, with the same result that through this seeing a message of divine provenience was introduced into his consciousness.
Seer differ from nabhi' in that the latter describes the active function of speaking for transmission of the message, whereas 'seer' describes the passive experience of being made acquainted with the message ocularly. To this, of course, would correspond the hearing which receives the speech of God.
pg. 197

We have found ... that the mode of seeing, while the older of the two main forms of prophetic revelation, yet continued to accompany the mode of hearing in later times. The prophets did not cease to be ro'im, henceforth to remain nebhi'im exclusively. The coequality of the one with the other is proven by the constant double usage till the latest times. This result seems to be upset by the passage, 1 Sam 9:9 "... come let us go the ro'eh: for he that now is called a nabhi' was beforetime called a ro'eh." The verse is an interjected remark of the writer to explain why in vs. 11 Saul and his servants say to the young maidens, "Is the ro'eh here?" Here ro'eh and nabhi' appear as two successive designations of the same office in the course of history.

... it would seem to imply imply that nabhi' was not yet in use at the time of Saul. And it would also create some difficulty to determine about what date the change of usage came in and what occasioned it. When and why was the designation re'oh dropped and nabhi' uniformly used? These two difficulties are met by substituting for the Masoretic text that of the Septuagint. The latter reads: "for the people called the nabhi' the ro'eh". In the text followed by the Septuagint translators, in the place of hayyom, 'today', there stood ha'am, 'the people'. Through this emendations the statement becomes clear in its import. Of the two, so to speak official,names in use for the prophet the people had preferred for a long time to employ the ro'eh-title. This was still their habit in Saul's day; it was no longer so in the time of the writer... It was entirely a matter of habit of address.

Perhaps was can even surmise in what this popular habit of avoiding nabhi' was rooted. The common people would come to a man like Samuel in the ordinary, in a sense trivial, difficulties of their daily life, as was the case with Saul seeking his father's animals. To that kind of enquiry the name ro'eh may well have seemed more fitting than the stately, serious nabhi'. And the man of God would also naturally obtain the information sought through vision-process rather than through speech-address from God. Such things Jehovah supplied to His servants by letting them see, for instance, the place where something lost could be found. A state of mind like this, so far from proving the non-existence of nahbi' rather presupposes it.
pg. 226ff

From Biblical Theology, BoT.

Vos here is arguing against those who would say that this verse contradicts earlier statements that there were nabhi' in the time of Moses. But, I think it's clear that Vos does not place much real distinction between the two, except in the method of message transmission.
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