(1Ki 18:1-15 ESV) After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)
We’ve seen suggestions earlier of large groups of prophets of God, and here we learn of a group of 100. We normally think that God sent the occasional prophet to announce his word, but at this time, there were evidently large schools of prophets. And these were just the ones that survived Jezebel’s purge.
(2Ki 2:9-11 ESV) 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”
10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”
11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Although the translators don’t capitalize the “S”, it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit is in mind here, as is made clear in —
(2Ki 2:14-16 ESV) 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. 15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.”
The “sons of the prophets” saw that Elisha had the spirit of Elijah because of his ability to perform a miracle. There are a couple of odd things about this passage. First, the sons of the prophets wondered what had happened to Elijah, and so they speculated, “It may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” Of course, this is the same Elijah who outran chariots and disappeared into the wilderness!
Second, who on earth are the “sons of the prophets”? It seems likely these were a guild of prophets or even prophet apprentices. As one author notes, “[S]on of pride, sons of light, son of Belial, are Hebraisms, which denote persons possessing the qualitites of pride, of light, or of Belial, as children inherit the qualities of their ancestors.”
It appears in many places that there were schools of apprentice or junior prophets, often headed by a more powerful or experienced prophet.
(1Ch 25:1-6 ESV) David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD. 4 Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5 All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.
God gifted several men in David’s court to prophesy to instrumental accompaniment. Evidently the power to compose and sing psalms and to play instruments is a type of prophecy.
(2Ch 24:20 ESV) 20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'”
The phrase “the Spirit of God clothed” is interesting because Paul speaks of Christians being “clothed” with Christ in Galatians. In this passage, “clothed” means the Spirit gave him a message and mission from God and, evidently, the courage to announce it. We see the same expression in —
(Jdg 6:34 ESV) 34 But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.
(1Ch 12:18 ESV) 18 Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.” Then David received them and made them officers of his troops.