6. The Spirit of Prophecy

The spirit of God in the prophets was called “the spirit of prophecy from before the Lord.”

In Ezekiel Chapter 1, Ezekiel saw a vision of living creatures: “wherever the spirit wanted them to go, they went … for spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”

In Chapter 2, “spirit” entered Ezekiel.

In Chapter 3, Ezekiel said “spirit” lifted him up.  Then in verse 22, he said “The hand of Yihvah was upon me there, and He said to me, ‘Arise go out in the plain, and there I shall speak with you.’”

Throughout the Old Testament, “the hand of Yihvah” described the power of God.

But Jonathan ben Uziel recognized that the hand of Yihvah on Ezekiel was more than the power of God. It was a speaking spirit, he called “the spirit of prophecy from before Yihvah.” 

The Targum of Jonathan ben Uziel used the same expression to describe the “hand of Yihvah,” in Ezekiel 1:3, 3:22, 8:1, 37:1, and 40:1.  Here, the Aramaic Targumim used the word “dwell” to describe the dwelling of God with men. 

In Ezekiel 11:1-4, spirit lifted Ezekiel up and spoke to him. Then in verse 5, he said the “spirit of Yihvah” came upon him and spoke to him. The same kind of phrase described the hand of Yihvah in Chapter 2.  The hand of Yihvah is  the “spirit of Yihvah.”

Why is the speaking of the hand of Yihvah always preceded by spirit entering Ezekiel? This is just as in the New Testament, where the speaking of “the Spirit” can only be heard by the anointing of the holy spirit.

In verse 24, Ezekiel said he was brought “in a vision by the spirit of God to Chaldea.” This spirit of God was called the spirit of Yihvah in Ezekiel 37:1, and “the hand of Yihvah” in Ezekiel 40:1.

In all these verses, the Targumist called it “the spirit of prophecy from before Yihvah.”