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The Bavli, M'gila 14:1 quotes:

Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied for the Jews….

Further along on the page, it questions this:

Were there no more? But it says [in I Sh'muel 1:1] "there was one man from Ramasayim Tzofim", i.e., one of masayim, two hundred, tzofim, seers, who prophesied for the Jews!

And it answers:

There were more. Indeed, the rabbis taught "There were so many prophets for the Jews — twice the number of people who left Egypt [at the Exodus]. But a prophecy needed for posterity was written, and one not needed [for posterity] was not written".

Thus, forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied for the Jews and have their messages included in Tanach; many more prophets prophesied for the Jews and do not have their messages included in Tanach.

My question is: Were there prophetesses with messages for the Jews, beyond the seven whose messages were for posterity? Any sources that indicate one way or the other?

(I do not think the answer can be found in D'varim Raba (7:8), which quotes Rabbi Hoshia:

The least [person] in the days of Moshe saw what Yechezkel, a great one among the prophets, did not see — [these were] people with whom the divine immanence spoke face to face, as it says [in D'varim 5:4] "face to face God spoke with you…".

These people — presumably women included — had prophecy, but, unless you can support such a claim, I have no reason to think that it was of the sort that included a message for the Jews, which is what M'gila is discussing ("for the Jews"). I'm asking about message-for-the-Jews prophecy: did women, beyond the seven listed, have that?)

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Couldn't you ask the same question about the male prophets? Is it only the small number that prompts the question? – HodofHod Jul 11 '12 at 6:47
@HodofHod The g'mara says there were more prophets with messages for the Jews. I'm going out on a limb and saying at least one of those was male. (Call me sexist.) I'm asking whether any was female. – msh210 Jul 11 '12 at 7:03
@msh210 not sexist, but grammatical :) – Charles Koppelman Jul 11 '12 at 14:31

1 Answer 1

I discuss this a bit when considering whether Rivkah was a prophetess. The seven are: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, Esther.

Chazal are the one who identify these seven; and Chazal also seem to be very reluctant to ascribe prophecy to women in general. See what they say in Bereishit Rabba about Sarah's prophecy: ויאמר ה' לה רבי יהודה בר רבי סימון, ורבי יוחנן בשם רבי אליעזר ב"ר שמעון, מעולם לא נזקק הקדוש ברוך הוא להשיח עם אשה, אלא עם אותה הצדקת, ואף היא על ידי עילה.

That Hashem does not in general converse with women. Objections are made regarding Hagar and Rivkah, and other interpretations are provided -- via an angel, via Shem ben Noach. See inside.

Of course, Chazal may not be monolithic, but this source, at least, indicates that some of Chazal did not believe that it was an expansive list.

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An interesting point. If the list was a minimum why fight so hard to keep Rivkah off it when she is almost explicitly written in the psukim. (As for Hagar, I don't see why God's talking to her makes her any more of a "Navi" than Lavan.) – Double AA Jul 12 '12 at 3:40

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