The 48 Jewish Prophets

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According to Jewish tradition there were 48 prophets. However, there is some dispute about exactly who they were.

The Source

The gemara in Megillah mentions the tradition of 48 prophets a couple of times.

Gemara Megillah 14a

Our Rabbis taught: “Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied to Israel, and they neither took away from nor added onto what is written in the Torah except for the reading of the Megillah.”

´╗┐Were there no more prophets than these [forty-eight]? … There were actually very many, as it has been taught, “Many prophets arose for Israel, double the number of [the Israelites] who came out of Egypt,” only the prophecy which contained a lesson for future generations was written down, and that which did not contain such a lesson was not written.

The Gemara is claiming that there were as many as 1.2 million prophets during the era of prophecy. Most of them had messages only for themselves or for their contemporaries.

(BTW, I’ve published a separate article about the 7 prophetesses mentioned in the Gemara.)

There are many hints in the Bible of there having been numerous prophets. For example, we have this testimony about Obadiah:

1 Kings 18

3. And Ahab called Obadiah, who was the governor of his house. And Obadiah feared the Lord greatly;
4. For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took a hundred prophets, and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.

Lone Man Walking

The Book of Genesis answers some fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What does God want from us? Genesis: From Creation To Covenant

The 48 Jewish Prophets – Rashi’s List

The Gemara Megillah 14a teaches us that there were 48 Jewish prophets. However, the Gemara does not tell us their names.

Rashi on his comment on the Gemara supplies a list. He bases his list on chapter 20 of the book Seder Olam.

Here is Rashi’s list of names in the order he mentions them:

  1. Abraham*
  2. Isaac*
  3. Jacob*
  4. Moses*
  5. Aaron*
  6. Joshua
  7. Phinehas / Pinchas
  8. Elkanah
  9. Eli*
  10. Samuel
  11. Gad
  12. Nathan
  13. David
  14. Solomon*
  15. Iddo
  16. Micaiahu
  17. Obadiah
  18. Ahijah the Shiloni
  19. Jehu son of Chanani
  20. Azariah son of Oded
  21. Jahaziel son of Zechariah
  22. Eliezer son of Dodavah
  23. Hosea
  24. Amos
  25. Micah the Morashite
  26. Amoz the father of Isaiah
  27. Elijah the Tishbite
  28. Elisha
  29. Jonah son of Amittai
  30. Isaiah
  31. Joel
  32. Nachum
  33. Habakkuk
  34. Zephaniah
  35. Uriah son of Shemaiah
  36. Jeremiah
  37. Ezekiel
  38. Daniel – Shemaiah
  39. Baruch son of Neriah
  40. Neriah*
  41. Seraiah son of Neriah
  42. Mahseiah grandfather of Seraiah*
  43. Haggai
  44. Zechariah
  45. Malachi
  46. Mordechai Bilshan
  47. ???
  48. ???

Key: * = not included on Vilna Gaon’s list (included later in this article).

Rashi ends his list with the phrase, “and two I do not know.”

The Vilna Gaon comments on Rashi’s list and suggests these two additions to the list:

  • 47. Chanani the Seer
  • 48. Oded

Also, Rashi initially includes Daniel on his list. But near the end of his list he remarks that Daniel (based on the Gemara Megillah 3a) does not belong on the list of the 48 prophets. Therefore, he removes Daniel and substitutes Shemaiah.

mountain and desert

48 Jewish Prophets in Chronological Order

The authors of the books of the Bible were not always interested in providing a precise chronology of events. Because of this, there can be doubt about who lived before who.

In trying to arrange Rashi’s list of prophets in chronological order, I’ve decided to look at eras of Jewish history. Then, within each era I will try to order the prophets chronologically.

Also, as an added feature of this chronological list, I’ve supplied a reference where each prophet is mentioned in the Bible.

1. Before the Entry into the Land of Israel

1. Abraham – Genesis 11 – 25

2. Isaac – Genesis 21 – 28

3. Jacob – Genesis 25 – 49

4. Moses – Exodus 2 – Deuteronomy 34

5. Aaron – Exodus 4 – Numbers 20

2. From the Entry until the Split into Two Kingdoms

6. Joshua – Exodus 17, Numbers 13, the Book of Joshua

7. Phinehas / Pinchas – Numbers 25, Joshua 22, Judges 20:28

8. Eli – 1 Samuel 1 – 4

9. Elkanah – 1 Samuel 1 – 2

10. Samuel – 1 Samuel 2 – 15

11. Gad – 1 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 24:11 – 19

12. Nathan – 2 Samuel 7:2 – 4, 2 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 1

13. David – 1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2

14. Solomon – 1 Kings 1 – 11

3. Prophets to the Kingdom of Israel

15. Ahijah the Shiloni – 1 Kings 11:29 – 39

16. Iddo – 1 Kings 13. In this chapter his name is not mentioned. He called the “man of God.”

17. Jehu son of Chanani – 1 Kings 16:1 – 4

18. Elijah the Tishbite – 1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 2

19. Obadiah – 1 Kings 18 and the book in his name

20. Elisha – 1 Kings 19 – 2 Kings 13

21. Jonah son of Amittai – book in his name

22. Micaiahu – 1 Kings 22

23. Hosea – book in his name

24. Amos – book in his name

4. Prophets to the Kingdom of Judah

25. Shemaiah – 1 Kings 12:22 – 24, 2 Chronicles 12:5 – 8, 15

26. Oded – 2 Chronicles 15:8, 28:9

27. Azariah son of Oded – 2 Chronicles 15:1 – 7

28. Chanani the Seer – 2 Chronicles 16:7 – 10

29. Jahaziel son of Zechariah – 2 Chronicles 20:14 – 17

30. Eliezer son of Dodavah – 2 Chronicles 20:37

31. Amoz the father of Isaiah – 2 Chronicles 25:7 and 15. In these verses his name is not mentioned. He called a “man of God.”

32. Isaiah son of Amoz – book in his name

33. Micah the Morashite – book in his name

34. Joel – book in his name

35. Nachum – book in his name

36. Habakkuk – book in his name

37. Zephaniah – book in his name

38. Jeremiah – book in his name

39. Uriah son of Shemaiah – Jeremiah 26:20 – 23

40. Mahseiah grandfather of Seraiah – Jeremiah 51:59

41. Neriah – Jeremiah 32, 36, 51:59

42. Baruch son of Neriah – Jeremiah 32 and 36

43. Seraiah son of Neriah – Jeremiah 51:59

5. Prophets after the Destruction of the Temple

44. Ezekiel – book in his name

45. Mordechai Bilshan – Esther 2 – 10

46. Haggai – book in his name

47. Zechariah – book in his name

48. Malachi (some say this is another name for Ezra) – book in his name

The Book of Genesis answers some fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What does God want from us? Genesis: From Creation To Covenant

Criticisms of Rashi’s List

Rashi is not the only commentator on the the Gemara who provides a list of the 48 prophets.

The main reason they differ with Rashi is because of the wording of the Gemara quoted above.

The Gemara clearly states that the 48 prophets “neither took away from nor added onto what is written in the Torah except for the reading of the Megillah.”

This statement implies that these 48 prophets must have been active after the Torah was given. It would only be possible to add or subtract from the Torah after it was given.

The second main critique of Rashi is because he writes that his list is based on Seder Olam, but he includes prophets who are not included in Seder Olam Chapter 20.

The 48 Jewish Prophets – Vilna Gaon’s List

I have come across about six different lists of the 48 Jewish prophets. I’m not going to include them all in this article.

However, I will include the list by the Vilna Gaon which will demonstrate the main differences between Rashi’s list and the other lists. The Vilna Gaon’s list is from his commentary on Seder Olam Chapter 20.

Here is how Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in A Handbook of Jewish Thought presents the Gaon’s list:

Key: Number in parentheses is the prophets position on Rashi’s list.
** = not included on Rashi’s list.

  1. Assir son of Korach**
  2. Elkanah son of Korach**
  3. Aviasaph son of Korach**
  4. Joshua (6)
  5. Phinehas / Pinchas (7)
  6. Elkanah (8)
  7. Nathan (12)
  8. Gad (11)
  9. Asaph son of Berachiah**
  10. Heman son of Joel**
  11. Yeduthun**
  12. Ethan son of Kishi**
  13. David (13)
  14. Ahijah the Shiloni (18)
  15. Samuel (10)
  16. Shemaiah (38)
  17. Iddo (15)
  18. Azariah son of Oded (20)
  19. Chanani the Seer (47)
  20. Jehu son of Chanani (19)
  21. Elijah the Tishbite (27)
  22. Micaiahu (16)
  23. Obadiah (17)
  24. Elisha (28)
  25. Eliezer son of Dodavah (22)
  26. Jonah son of Amittai (29)
  27. Zechariah son of Yehoyada**
  28. Amoz the father of Isaiah (26)
  29. Habakkuk (33)
  30. Zephaniah (34)
  31. Jeremiah (36)
  32. Isaiah (30)
  33. Ezekiel (37)
  34. Daniel**
  35. Baruch son of Neriah (39)
  36. Uriah son of Shemaiah (35)
  37. Seraiah son of Neriah (41)
  38. Mordechai Bilshan (46)
  39. Jahaziel son of Zechariah (21)
  40. Oded (48)
  41. Hosea (23)
  42. Amos (24)
  43. Micah the Morashite (25)
  44. Joel (31)
  45. Nachum (32)
  46. Haggai (43)
  47. Zechariah (44)
  48. Malachi (45)

So we see that Rashi and the Vilna Gaon differ on the identity of 9 out of the 48 prophets. Their most significant point of disagreement is whether to include those who were prophets before the Torah was given.

Further Reading

This article is part of a series on the subject of prophecy. A good place to start is with the article What is Prophecy – A Jewish Perspective.

At the end of that article you will links to all of the other articles.

A Note on the Translations

The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.

The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.

The Book of Genesis answers some fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What does God want from us? Genesis: From Creation To Covenant