The Role Of Prophecy


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  • Image and information from:,01-Events_Portraits_Evenements/slides/16%20MICHELANGELO%20ZECHARIAH.html Michelangelo Zechariah 1509 Fresco, 360 x 390 cm Sistine Chapel, Vatican
  • The city of Mari was an important capital of the ancient world in the latter half of the third millennium and the first half of the second millennium BCE until it was destroyed by the Babylonian king Hammurabi in ca. 1759 BCE (Nissinen 13). One of the most important finds for the study of the ancient world has been the Mari letters and texts, texts which include administrative documents of various kinds, letters, treaties, ritual and omen texts and literary texts. Many of the letters from Mari deal with divination. There exists correspondence between diviners and kings as well as reports of dreams, oracles and ominous events told to the king by royal ladies or high officials. Prophetic oracles are sometimes reported in letters; apparently prophets didn’t communicate their prophecies in written form, but prophecies were later recorded by others. Thus we have to bear in mind that the prophecies contain information the writers thought were important; in other words, the prophecies have been edited (Ibid. 13-14). There doesn’t seem to be a difference between a muhhum and an apilum , but it seems as if an apilum could travel from one place to another, but a muhhum/muhuttum was restricted to the temple with which he/she was affiliated (Nissinen 6).
  • Image from: The palace complex at Mari during the time of the king Zimri-Lim was one of the largest of its time, with over 300 rooms.
  • Image from: An investiture is when someone is made king. This is a partially preserved fresco of Zimri-Lim‘s investiture.
  • Other words for prophet include assinu , which seems to be a “man-woman.” Some Assyrian prophets seem to have an undefinable gender. Neo-Assyrian sources use the word raggimu (fem. raggintu ) as a standard one for prophet; the word is from the root ragamu , “to shout, to proclaim.” The Deir’ Alla inscription, which we mentioned in the Balaam presentation, uses the root hzh , that is, “seer, visionary,” which we know from Tanakh as well (Nissinen 7).
  • Prophets were an established, though not highest-ranking, part of the “divinatory apparatus” (Nissinen 16) used by kings of Mari. Perhaps surprisingly to us, prophets communicated more indirectly with the king than did haruspicers (people who read animal entrails to divine the future, animal entrails such as livers; these animals were sacrificed in ritually pure ways) and dreamers. However, prophecies were considered important enough to be reported to the king – by others, not the prophet himself (Nissinen 16). Thus, a big difference between ancient Israel and the ancient world is that prophets in Israel were considered legitimate (obviously not false prophets, but true ones) than diviners, who are given no credence whatsoever in the Torah and whose practices are banned in Devarim 18:10-11 : 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, 11 or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer. י    לֹא - יִמָּצֵא בְךָ , מַעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ - וּבִתּוֹ בָּאֵשׁ , קֹסֵם קְסָמִים , מְעוֹנֵן וּמְנַחֵשׁ וּמְכַשֵּׁף . יא   וְחֹבֵר , חָבֶר ; וְשֹׁאֵל אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִי , וְדֹרֵשׁ אֶל - הַמֵּתִים .
  • The above slide is a Mari letter (Nissinen 21-22). Prophets were the “mouthpieces of the deities” (Ibid. 16) and thus were considered servants of the gods. The Mari prophets were usually associated with a specific god. Thus the above slide says “Abiya, prophet of Adad [a god].” The most frequently mentioned gods are Dagan – there are thirteen letters connected with prophecy from him – and Annunitum, a manifestation of Istar – five letters have to do with prophecy from her. The most common theme in the prophecies is the welfare of the king and his war schedule. We can again see this from the above slide. The letters from the royal ladies of Mari especially stress the king’s well being, advising him to protect himself. These warnings can be from the prophets themselves or from the royal ladies. Often prophecies foretell the victory of the king over his enemies, with the enemy in question named specifically. The king didn’t necessarily heed the prophetic rulings. For example, Zimri Lim entered into a peace treaty with the king of Esnunna, despite being advised not to do such a thing (Ibid. 16-17). And Zimri-Lim is told a few times that he will defeat Hammurabi, the king who eventually defeats Zimri-Lim. Another interesting feature of the prophecies is the handing over of a fringe of garment and a piece of hair to the king via the messenger delivering the prophecy. The procedure was an ancient DNA test, as the piece of garment and hair sample were used to authenticate the prophet using extispicy, the practice of reading animal entrails to divine information. Often the entrail was a liver, as we discussed in the Balaam presentation. Even dreams were checked via this means of extispicy, and sometimes authors of the Mari letters suggest that another diviner “countersign” their prophecies (Ibid. 16). Again, Israel has no such practice. Just the opposite. We believe divinatory practices such as extispicy have no validity, and while we can have a hard time distinguishing between false and real prophets, we do not do so via divination.
  • Image and information taken and quoted directly from: Many worshippers placed votive statues in their own image in the temples of Mari, thus perpetuating their prayers to the deity. These statues of praying figures are mostly depicted with their hands joined and wearing a garment known as a "kaunake" skirt. The statue of the Superintendent Ebih-Il is a masterpiece by virtue of its craftsmanship, state of preservation, and expressive style. Description The masterpiece of Mari sculpture Excavations carried out in 1933 by André Parrot of the site of Mari, in Syria, led to the discovery of temples dedicated to different deities (Ishtar, Ishtarat, and Ninizaza) dating from the mid-third millennium BC. The statue of the superintendent Ebih-Il was discovered in the temple of the godess Ishtar Virile, the first temple excavated at Mari. Another statue from the same period, representing King Lamgi-Mari, whose inscription enables us to identify Tell Hariri as the site of ancient Mari, was also found in this temple. Ebih-Il is seated on a wicker stool. He is bare-chested and wears a long "kaunake" skirt, a garment made from sheepskin or goatskin or from a cloth simulating the fleece of an animal. The "kaunake" skirt was worn by both men and women. The way in which the woolly texture of the "kaunake" skirt worn by Ebih-Il is depicted, as well as the presence of a tail at the back of the garment, confirms that it is made of animal hide, rendered here with a realism that is quite rare. The figure has a shaven head and wears a long beard, which must have been inlaid with another material. Only the eyes have retained their inlay of shell and lapis lazuli set in shale, the whole set in bitumen. Lapis lazuli, which came from Afghanistan, testifies to the fact that long-distance relationships had been established between countries in the Middle East as early as the third millennium BC. The translucent and perfectly smooth alabaster of which this statue is made greatly enhances the subtle way in which the bust is sculpted. At the back of the statue there is an inscription that identifies the work: "Statue of Ebih-Il, the superintendent, dedicated to Ishtar Virile [Ishtar, godess of war]". Statues of praying figures Statues of praying figures were intended to be placed in the temples dedicated to their tutelary gods. The joined hands, the most frequent pose depicted, have been interpreted as the attitude of prayer and was presumably intended to perpetuate the act of devotion in the temple. The figure might also hold a goblet in his hands, as in the perforated relief carvings depicting banquet scenes, which were also placed in temples. This type of statuary, inaugurated at the time of the Archaic Dynasties (essentially during phases II and III, or circa 2800-2340 BC) would last into later eras and the large number of statues representing Prince Gudea of Lagash Tello (Musée du Louvre) illustrate this phenomenon. Despite some variations, representations of praying figures followed the same pattern. They feature male or female worshippers. Most are of stone, but some metal versions also exist. Their height varies from a few centimeters to over a meter: the statue of Ebih-Il is 52 centimeters. The figures were depicted either sitting or standing. Some statues bear inscriptions enabling us to identify the figures represented and to establish their role in society. At Mari, the inscriptions refer to men only; the women remain entirely anonymous. These men and women belonged to the higher social classes: they were either high-ranking dignitaries or courtiers (superintendents, officers, land officials, scribes, cupbearers), members of the clergy (like the priestesses represented by the female figures in Mari), or affluent merchants." 
  • We’ve mentioned what prophecy is like in other nations. Now let’s take a look at how it functioned in Israel and, particularly, the Second Temple period you’re learning about this year. First of all, as we mentioned already, we put no credence in divinatory practices such as extispicy, necromancy, soothsaying, etc.
  • Image from: Information about the navi : (Blenkinsopp 28) Michelangelo Isaiah 1509 Fresco, 365 x 380 cm Sistine Chapel, Vatican City We saw Jonah by Michelangelo in the first slide. Here is Isaiah. There are in total seven Old Testament prophets that Michelangelo included on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, seven being an important number in the Hebrew Bible, as Michelangelo would have known. The prophets are: Jonah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Isaiah, Joel, Ezekial and Daniel. In addition, Michelangelo included sibyls on his famous ceiling, female figures from pagan mythology who predicted the future but who Michelangelo “converted” into Christian prophetesses.
  • It’s really impossible to determine from what social strata prophets originated; however, we see here in Shmuel 10:5-6 that there were bands of prophets. As we saw in the Balaam story, prophecy seems to involve being or ending at a high place. Music also seems to play a part in reaching a prophetic state or trance, and the fact that the pasuk tells Shaul he will be “turned into another man” moreover suggests an altered consciousness is part of prophecy. We saw the idea of an altered consciousness in the word, muhhum , which is someone who goes into a frenzy (Blenkinsopp 37). An interesting theory about the role of prophets is that there seems to be a correlation between “group ectastic phenomena” and “situations of social, political, and military stress.” If a foreign power, for example, were to occupy a land and its nation would be marginalized and subjugated, a group might form to engage in prophesy to escape the direness of the situation and offer the rest of the people a message of hope (Ibid. 37). Obviously, the above explanation is a highly psychological one, but it might explain a high level of prophetic activity in B’nai Yisrael during the eleventh and tenth centuries, when it was constantly fighting existential battles with the Philistines (Ibid 37).
  • But Shmuel 10:10-13 is not the only place where Shaul prophesies, remember. In Shmuel 19:18-24, Shaul and his messengers get caught up in a frenzy of prophesying. It seems as if the kind of state described in Shmuel 19:18-24 is “highly contagious” (Blenkinsopp 37).
  • Michelangelo Daniel, 1509, fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City Most of the prophets worked alone: Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel. We usually don’t know much about the prophet’s life before God calls on him (Blenkinsopp 33-34), but once he is called he is the “lonely man of faith.” The prophet did see himself, clearly, as an emissary of God, someone whom God uses as an instrument for His messages. More on that soon. Blenkinsopp points out that the prophet in Israel might have been more accepted and free to exist because of Israel’s tribal roots. We are basically a tribal society; even today we exist on the notion that kol Yisrael arevin ze la ze . This notion would have been foreign to monarchic-centric societies like Egypt and Mesopotamia. Those two regions were organized as empires, and those empires probably could not tolerate the kind of role that the Israelite prophet came to have (34-35).
  • The above slide is a Mari letter (Nissinen 21-22). During the time that Israel had a king, the prophet, like the ones in the ancient world, would act as moral guide and conscience and foreteller of military outcomes. However, as we saw, the prophet in B’nai Yisrael needed no emissary from him to the king. Though society may not have always liked the prophet’s message (as we see with Yirmiyahu), we also saw that the prophet had a place in the tribally-based Israelite society in a way that was unusual and unique for the ancient world. In fact, the prophet’s unique position came to play an important role in the time of Shivat Zion .
  • Image from: Jonah by Michelangelo, 1509, fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City In church tradition, Zechariah is usually depicted as a young man, but here Michelangelo depicts him as older. He is looking into a book, probably his prophecy on temple rebuilding. For the Christians, the rebuilding of the temple was probably a comparison to the rebuilding of St.Peter’s, the church in which the Sistine Chapel appears. The fact that Zechariah is not as well done as other figures suggests Michelangelo finished him early on in the Sistine Chapel ceiling poject, which took about four years to complete. As B’nai Yisrael faced life in Second Temple times without a king and learned to navigate the new reality of their political situation, the prophet took on an important role. We see Nechemiah as a political leader and Ezra as a religious one. We also see that the concept of God’s having a messenger and a message does not recede. Malachi means “my messenger,” and Zechariah begins with an exhortation to repent as earlier generations did not and with the clear message that the earlier prophets were servants of God, a reminder that if B’nai Yisrael doesn’t listen to the new generation of prophets, servants of God, the same miserable fate that befell their fathers will befall them. We should also be aware that in the ancient world prophecy was associated with temple practices and rites, and prophets were closely linked to the temple. Here in the books of Shivat Zion , we see a new reality emerge. The temple does not exist, and the role of the prophets – as seen particularly in Nechemiah and Haggai – was to urge the people to rebuild it. The prophet, however, survived without the temple! Although the Shivat Zion prophets desperately wanted the new dyarchy of temple and palace and had great hopes for the Davidite descendent Zerubbabel, nevertheless and perhaps more importantly, they, by their mere existence, ensured the survival of the Jewish people. They saw and heard God, and they continued to transmit his messages at a time of vulnerability and fragility for the Jewish people. Statistics prove that Israel should have died out when we lost our king and autonomy, and when we were finally scattered after the Second Temple was destroyed, we really should have disappeared from the earth. Instead, the prophets laid the foundation for a concept that would fortify our nation through our years of degradation and subjugation: we may not have an earthly king, but the prophets, as messengers of God from His Divine court (Blenkinsopp 34), showed us that we always have a Heavenly one. Our covenant with him is immutable, and our servitude to Him has given us purpose and dignity. Works Cited: Blenkinsopp, Joseph. A History of Prophecy in Israel . Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996. Nissinen, Martti. Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East . Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.
  • The Role Of Prophecy

    1. 1. Prophet and Prophecy in the Ancient World
    2. 2. Names for Prophets in the Ancient World, from Akkadian to Neo-Babylonian eras <ul><li>Babylonian: muhhu(m) (feminine: muhhutu(m) ) </li></ul><ul><li>Assyrian: mahhu (feminine: mahhutu ) </li></ul><ul><li>Mari : muhhum is most popular term for prophet. (What was Mari ?) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Muhhum is from the root mahu , “to become crazy, to go into a frenzy” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Mari, another word for prophet was apilum (fem. apiltum ) from the root apalu , “to answer” </li></ul></ul>Apalu sounds like Apollo , a Greek god of prophecy. The oracle of Apollo was big in ancient Greece
    3. 3. The messages of the prophets were often transmitted to the king through messengers, often the royal ladies of Mari <ul><li>The Palace of Zimri-Lim </li></ul>
    4. 4. Investiture of Zimri-Lim: The Making of a King Fresco, 19 th century BCE, royal palace at Mari, now in Louvre, Paris, France
    5. 5. The Mari Letters <ul><li>Tell us about many aspects of life in the ancient world </li></ul><ul><li>Tell us a lot about ancient prophecy </li></ul><ul><li>For example, there were people in addition to muhhutu and apiltum who seemed to engage in prophetic activity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One is the qammatum , who is mentioned as a mouthpiece for the god Dagan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Another is the nabu , a word some say is related to the Hebrew word, navi </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Terms So Far <ul><li>Muhhu : from the root, “to go into a frenzy” </li></ul><ul><li>Apilum : from the root, “to answer” </li></ul><ul><li>Raggimu : from the root, “to shout, to proclaim” </li></ul><ul><li>Hzh: from the root, “seer, visionary” </li></ul><ul><li>Nabu : from the Akkadian cognate, “to call” </li></ul>What do all these words reveal about the role of a prophet?
    7. 7. Mari Letter to King Zimri-Lim Containing a Prophecy <ul><li>Nur Sin to Zimri Lim: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speak to my lord: Thus Nur Sin, your servant: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abiya, prophet of Adad, the lord of Alep[po], </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>came to me and said: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ . . . let me re[s]tore you! I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>restored you to the th[rone of your </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>father’s house], and the weapon[s] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>with which I fought with Sea I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>handed you. I anointed you with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the oil of my luminosity, nobody </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>will offer resistance to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now hear a single word of </li></ul><ul><li>mine: If anyone cries out to <you> </li></ul><ul><li>for judgment, saying, ‘I have been </li></ul><ul><li>wr[ong]ed,’ be there to decide his </li></ul><ul><li>case; an[swer him fai]rly. [Th]is is </li></ul><ul><li>what I de[sire] from you. </li></ul><ul><li>If you go [off] to war, never </li></ul><ul><li>do so [wi]thout consulting an oracle. </li></ul><ul><li>[W]hen I become manifest in </li></ul><ul><li>[my] oracle, go to the war. If it does </li></ul><ul><li>[not] happen, do [not] go out of the </li></ul><ul><li>city gate. </li></ul><ul><li>This is what the prophet said </li></ul><ul><li>to me. No[w I have sent the hair of </li></ul><ul><li>the prophet] and a fri[nge of his </li></ul><ul><li>garment to the lord]. </li></ul>
    8. 8. The statue of the Superintendent Ebih-Il Votive statues like this one were popular in the ancient Near East. People would place them in temples to represent themselves praying with constant devotion. Notice the prayerful posing of the hands and the overly large eyes, a possible sign of religious piety.
    9. 9. Devarim 18:14-15 <ul><li>יד   כִּי הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה , אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה יוֹרֵשׁ אוֹתָם -- אֶל - מְעֹנְנִים וְאֶל - קֹסְמִים , יִשְׁמָעוּ ; וְאַתָּה -- לֹא כֵן , נָתַן לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ . </li></ul><ul><li>טו   נָבִיא מִקִּרְבְּךָ מֵאַחֶיךָ כָּמֹנִי , יָקִים לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ :  אֵלָיו , תִּשְׁמָעוּן . </li></ul><ul><li>14 For these nations, that thou art to dispossess, hearken unto soothsayers, and unto diviners; but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. </li></ul><ul><li>15 A prophet will the LORD thy God raise up unto thee, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken </li></ul>
    10. 10. And this is how we check for a false prophet, not with hair or garment! <ul><li>22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him. </li></ul><ul><li>כב   אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה , וְלֹא - יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבֹא -- הוּא הַדָּבָר , אֲשֶׁר לֹא - דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה :  בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא , לֹא תָגוּר מִמֶּנּוּ .  { ס } </li></ul>Devarim 18:22
    11. 11. What Does Israelite Prophecy Look Like? <ul><li>We have different types of prophecy, as the ancient world did </li></ul><ul><li>The term, navi , can include different types of prophetic activities that we’ve seen </li></ul><ul><li>Grammatically, it’s unclear whether navi means “to call” or “the one who is called” </li></ul>Isaiah by Michelangelo
    12. 12. Where are prophets from and how do they get prophecy? <ul><li>5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines; and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a timbrel, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they will be prophesying. </li></ul><ul><li>6 And the spirit of the LORD will come mightily upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. </li></ul><ul><li>ה   אַחַר כֵּן , תָּבוֹא גִּבְעַת הָאֱלֹהִים , אֲשֶׁר - שָׁם , נְצִבֵי פְלִשְׁתִּים ; וִיהִי כְבֹאֲךָ שָׁם הָעִיר , וּפָגַעְתָּ חֶבֶל נְבִאִים יֹרְדִים מֵהַבָּמָה , וְלִפְנֵיהֶם נֵבֶל וְתֹף וְחָלִיל וְכִנּוֹר , וְהֵמָּה מִתְנַבְּאִים . </li></ul><ul><li>ו   וְצָלְחָה עָלֶיךָ רוּחַ יְהוָה , וְהִתְנַבִּיתָ עִמָּם ; וְנֶהְפַּכְתָּ , לְאִישׁ אַחֵר . </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God came mightily upon him, and he prophesied among them. </li></ul><ul><li>11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied with the prophets, {S} then the people said one to another: 'What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?' </li></ul><ul><li>12 And one of the same place answered and said: 'And who is their father?' Therefore it became a proverb: 'Is Saul also among the prophets?' </li></ul><ul><li>13 And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place. </li></ul><ul><li>י   וַיָּבֹאוּ שָׁם הַגִּבְעָתָה , וְהִנֵּה חֶבֶל - נְבִאִים לִקְרָאתוֹ ; וַתִּצְלַח עָלָיו רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים , וַיִּתְנַבֵּא בְּתוֹכָם . </li></ul><ul><li>יא   וַיְהִי , כָּל - יוֹדְעוֹ מֵאִתְּמוֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם , וַיִּרְאוּ , וְהִנֵּה עִם - נְבִאִים נִבָּא :  { ס }  וַיֹּאמֶר הָעָם אִישׁ אֶל - רֵעֵהוּ , מַה - זֶּה הָיָה לְבֶן - קִישׁ -- הֲגַם שָׁאוּל , בַּנְּבִיאִים . </li></ul><ul><li>יב   וַיַּעַן אִישׁ מִשָּׁם וַיֹּאמֶר , וּמִי אֲבִיהֶם ; עַל - כֵּן הָיְתָה לְמָשָׁל , הֲגַם שָׁאוּל בַּנְּבִאִים . </li></ul><ul><li>יג   וַיְכַל , מֵהִתְנַבּוֹת , וַיָּבֹא , הַבָּמָה . </li></ul>הֲגַם שָׁאוּל בַּנְּבִאִים
    14. 14. In the end, though, many of the great prophets work alone and are not part of a band of ecstatics Michelangelo’s Daniel
    15. 15. So What is a Prophet? <ul><li>A compelling image of the prophet emerges: </li></ul><ul><li>The prophet is the courier between God and B’nai Yisrael. It is the prophet’s duty to deliver God’s message to the Israelite nation. </li></ul>What’s so special about that? We saw the ancient world had a similar concept!
    16. 16. Mari Letter to King Zimri-Lim Containing a Prophecy <ul><li>Nur Sin to Zimri Lim: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speak to my lord: Thus Nur Sin, your servant: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abiya, prophet of Adad, the lord of Alep[po], </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>came to me and said: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ . . . let me re[s]tore you! I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>restored you to the th[rone of your </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>father’s house], and the weapon[s] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>with which I fought with Sea I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>handed you. I anointed you with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the oil of my luminosity, nobody </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>will offer resistance to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now hear a single word of </li></ul><ul><li>mine: If anyone cries out to <you> </li></ul><ul><li>for judgment, saying, ‘I have been </li></ul><ul><li>wr[ong]ed,’ be there to decide his </li></ul><ul><li>case; an[swer him fai]rly. [Th]is is </li></ul><ul><li>what I de[sire] from you. </li></ul><ul><li>If you go [off] to war, never </li></ul><ul><li>do so [wi]thout consulting an oracle. </li></ul><ul><li>[W]hen I become manifest in </li></ul><ul><li>[my] oracle, go to the war. If it does </li></ul><ul><li>[not] happen, do [not] go out of the </li></ul><ul><li>city gate. </li></ul><ul><li>This is what the prophet said </li></ul><ul><li>to me. No[w I have sent the hair of </li></ul><ul><li>the prophet] and a fri[nge of his </li></ul><ul><li>garment to the lord]. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Zechariah by Michelangelo, 1509, fresco, Sistine Chapel ceiling