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Ready or Not, Here I Come: Triggering Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProphecy and Its Cultic Dimensions
EditorsLena-Sofia Tiemeyer
Place of PublicationGöttingen
PublisherVandenhoek & Ruprecht
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-3-525-57086-9
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2019

Publication series

NameJournal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements
PublisherVandenhoeck & Ruprecht

King's Authors


This paper explores the notion of “triggering” prophecy. Contrary to what is often assumed, select material in the Hebrew Bible suggests that prophets used ritualised behaviour in order to elicit a divine response. But can the use of triggers be equated with ritual behaviour. To answer this question, the essay looks at a wide range of texts. The narrative about Elijah in 2 Kgs 3 and the narrative about King Saul in 1 Sam 10 both support the notion that music might have been used to trigger prophecy. Likewise, the paper postulates that the narrative about Balaam in Num 22–24 may reflect the use of ritual slaughter as a possible trigger. In all these cases, though, God is at liberty to choose to deliver an oracle or not. The essay also discusses the use of sleep and intoxicating liquids, as well as the possibility, hinted at in the narrative about Huldah in 1 Kgs 22, of controlled inquiry concluding that enquiring of Yhwh may likely have included some form of action and that this action should in itself be understood as a kind of ritualized behaviour.

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