PROPHETS, THE. The title of the second of the three groups into which the books of the Old Testament are divided. They are sub-divided into two smaller groups. (1) The Former Prophets (Nebiim rishonim) : Joshua, Judges, I. and II. Samuel, I. and IL Kings. These are what we should call historical writings. (2) The Latter Prophets (Nebiim akhar8nim) : Isaiah, Jere miah, Ezekiel, the twelve Minor Prophets. These are strictly prophetical writings. Certain historical books are regarded as prophetical writings (The Former Pro phets), because the prophets were regarded as the writers of the age. " The idea was that the history of each successive generation was written by a contemporary prophet; and as the prophetic literature in the narrower sense does not begin until the reign of Jeroboam II. in Israel and Uzziah in Judah, the narratives of whose reigns fall in the second half of the Second Book of Kings, it was natural that the great bulk of the his torical writings (Joshua-II. Kings xiv.) should be roughly described as the work of the older prophets " (W. Sanday, Inspiration, 1903). The order of the books as given by the Talmud and Jerome is somewhat different. The Talmud has: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jere miah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Minor Prophets. Here the posi tion of Isaiah (last instead of first of the great prophets) is remarkable. The Talmud accounts for this order " by
saying that the Books of Kings end with desolation, that Jeremiah is all desolation, that Ezekiel begins with deso lation and ends with consolation, and that Isaiah is all consolation, so that desolation is fitly joined to desola tion and consolation to consolation; an idea which is not without its pathos and beauty, but which belongs rather to the time when the harps were hung up and the Rabbis were occupied with the wistful retrospect of their past history, than to the simpler motives at work when the books were first collected. That the place assigned to Isaiah has been affected by the incorporation of the last twenty-seven chapters, which are really later than Jere miah and Ezekiel, would be a welcome supposition if it were probable, but it appears more likely that Jere miah was placed next to the later chapters of II. Kings, with which his book is so closely connected, and Isaiah immediately before his contemporary Hosea " (W. Sauday). The order given by Jerome is: Joshua, Judges and Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations, Ezekiel, Minor Prophets. See G. Wilde hoer; H. E. Ryle, Canon.