Posted by: Brad Beaman | November 18, 2011

School of the Prophets

Elijah casting his mantle on Elisha

I decided to do a study on the school of the prophets when we were having our family Bible reading time with our children from the Children’s Bible story with Elijah taken to heaven. A couple of times that day Elisha ran into a prophet from the “school of the prophets” that told Elisha that Elijah would be taken up that day.

I loved the concept of school of the prophets and Elijah having Elisha with him when he was taken up. I wanted to study the school of the prophets looking for some applications for modern day discipleship and mentoring.

I began my study with a Bible dictionary article to zero in on the verses. The first aspect of the study came out different than I expected.  

The Hebrew is literally “sons of prophets” or in 1 Samuel 10:5 & 10 “group of prophets”. I checked about 20 English translations and did not find any translation that ever mentions school of prophets. Most translated these prophets as  sons of prophets, but here is all the ways this is translated that I found; Sons of prophets, company of prophets, disciples of the prophets, group of prophets, guild of prophets, The sons of the men who spoke for God.

The school of the prophets comes from interpreting the situation and not the literal rendering of the text. The term “school of the prophets” is found in commentaries to describe what these groups of prophets were. See John Wesley’s Notes here:

Another turn that I was not expecting is that Elijah was not insisting that Elisha be present with him when he was taken away, but Elijah repeatedly told him not to be there, but Elisha insisted to come along when Elijah told him to stay back. I don’t see the mentoring lesson in that, at least not yet.  

If Samuel founded the school of the prophets, as is attributed to him, and it was in full swing through Elijah and Elisha then school was in session for these prophets for about 250 years. When Amos says he is not a prophet or a son of a prophet he may have been saying he was not in the school of the prophets (Amos 7:14).

 Black eye for the school of the prophets.

If Samuel founded the school of the prophets it got off to a bad start.

And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. 1 Samuel 8:1

If Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijuh were in the school of the prophets then their diploma should be recalled. These guys presumably graduates of the school of the prophets did not walk in the ways of the Lord. They sought after dishonest gain accepted bribes and perverted justice. It was their disgraceful leadership that motivated Israel to ask for a king. 1 Samuel 8:3-5.

Another time we find disgrace among the school of the prophets is after Naaman is healed of leprosy in 2 Kings Chapter 5. Elisha asked that no compensation be given as a result of Naaman’s healing. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha went back to Naaman, made up a story that two men from the school of the prophets suddenly came to Elisha and he needed the money, (silver and clothes) for them. He took the payment he received by decieving Naaman and hid it in the house.

Elisha knew about this sinful greed of his assistant Gehazi (presumably Gehazi is also from the school of the prophets but not for certain) and the Leprosy of Naaman was now on Gehazi and even his descendents.  

 School of the Prophets launch a Building Program

During the time of Elijah the prophets were killed and Obadiah had hidden 100 prophets in two caves (1 Kings 18:4). There was an expansion of the school of the prophets during the time when Elisha took the mantle and there was a building program initiated (2 Kings 6:17).

One time some poisonous gourds were in the food for the school of the prophets. Elisha performed a miracle and there was nothing harmful in the pot. Then they fed 100 prophets on twenty loaves of barley and some heads of new grain and still had food left over. (2 Kings 4:38-41)

The school of the prophets makes for a very interesting Bible study. If I am missing something that should be included let me know in the comments.

Picture Credit:      For websit with the picture above click here  —->  Picture public domain site  

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