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The Bavli, M'gila 14 amud 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
msh if you really don't like a/b which i think you don't, consider r/v (recto/verso) which is a standard accepted in secular codicology. – Double AA Nov 3 at 21:08
@DoubleAA, that'd be correct and even canonical but, for most readers here, opaque, so I'll not. Thanks for the idea though. – msh210 Nov 3 at 21:12

2 Answers 2

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 ones 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
It seems that להשיח is not prophecy because the Medrash says never while we find seven. In this case it was a conversation. – HaLeiVi Nov 4 at 16:30
Targum Yonathan on Bereshit 27:5 (link) states Rivqah received רוח הקודש. Or HaḤayim on the same pasuq plainly writes that Rivqah was a prophetess. – Lee Nov 15 at 19:24
  • Targum Yonathan (Bereshit 27:5) states Rivqah received רוח הקודש
  • Or HaḤayim (ibid) plainly states Rivqah was a prophetess
  • RaSh"I (Bereshit 29:34) states that the foremothers prophesied that Ya'aqov was to father the Twelve Tribes ("האמהות נביאות היו ויודעות שי"ב שבטים יוצאים מיעקב")
  • Sifte'i Ḥakhamim (ibid) makes peace between Megillah 14A and Targum Yonathan / Or HaḤayim, and hones our understanding of the RaSh"I immediately above by stating (my translation):

ואם תאמר והא בפ"ק דמגילה (י"ד.) לא חשיב אלא ז' נביאות: שרה, מרים, דבורה, חנה, אביגיל, וחולדה, ואסתר. ויש לומר דהתם חשבו מה שהקרא מעיד עליהן, ושרה הקרא מעיד עליה דכתיב (לעיל כ"א י"ב) כל אשר תאמר אליך שרה שמע בקולה, מלמד שאברהם היה טפל לשרה בנביאות (ברש"י שם)וכן כולם, אבל גבי אמהות לא מצינו שהיו מתנבאות, כי אפשר לפרש הקרא דהכא כפשוטו, ומהרש"ל פירש שהאמהות לא היו מתנבאות כי אם על עצמן שהיו יודעות מה שיבא עליהן, אבל מה שיבא לעתיד על האחרים לא היו יודעות, משום הכי לא חשב אותם בכלל שאר נביאות נ"ל

And, if you will say, "after all in Chapter 1 of [Masekhet] Megillah (14A) there are but seven prophetesses accounted for: Sarah, Miryam, Devorah, Ḥannah, Avigayil, Ḥuldah and Esther". And, it can be said that there [in Masekhet Megillah] the accounting was based on Scripture testifying about them.

Scripture testifies about Sarah as it is written, "whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice" (Bereshit 21:12), which teaches that Avraham was subordinate to Sarah in prophecy (see RaSh"I there) and thus for all of the prophetesses [in Masekhet Megillah]. But, as regards the foremothers, we do not find that they prophesied, for it is possible to interpret the Scripture (such as this one) by its literal meaning.

And the MaHaRSha"L [left column, half way down the third paragraph] interpreted that the foremothers only prophesied as regards their own personal matters (i.e. that they would foretell what would come upon themselves); but, they did not know what would come upon others and, for this reason, they were not accounted for among the other prophetesses [in Masekhet Megillah].

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Like often happens in Torah learning, this answer came to me while learning RaSh"I with Sifte'i Ḥakhamim just a few days after reading and thinking about this question. – Lee Nov 18 at 11:39
+1. Many thanks! – msh210 Nov 18 at 13:18

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