If a person is a leader of men and brings his community to religion and is an upholder of the law, could he be considered a prophet, or is this honour only held by Biblical figures?

Does G-D still appoint prophets to lead his communities today, or has the age of prophets passed?

EDIT: I think my question is more in regards to what makes a great leader and what makes a prophet and how these two things are related. The question linked asks more about how Judaism view of prophecy differs from other religions.

  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/57543/…
    – Loewian
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 14:15
  • @Loewian That seems like a duplicate to me. No?
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 15:49
  • @msh210 Well technically the OP seems to be asking anywhere between 1 and 4 questions...
    – Loewian
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 16:17
  • The other question is asking whether there are prophets today. This question is asking whether a leader today can be a prophet. Those seem exactly the same to me, except that the other question allows for non-leader prophets and this one only wants to know if there are leader prophets. Unless I'm missing something.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 17:19
  • Not knowing much about Judaism, is there some equivalent of Beatification/Canonization in it?
    – Nick T
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


In Judaism, prophecy means to communicate the direct word of God. Someone who does the things that you mention might be a great person, but that is simply a different thing from prophecy.

The Bible lists 55 Jewish prophets, although the Talmud (Megilla 14a) states that there were 1.2 million Jewish prophets, so prophecy was not limited to those prophets mentioned in the Bible. The Talmud explains that the vast majority of these prophets' messages were only relevant to their own generations. Only the messages that were important for the future were preserved in scripture. So the answer to your title question, "Can non-Biblical figures be considered prophets?" is "yes."

However, being an "upholder of the law" and bringing a community to religion are not the same thing as prophecy, and they are not necessarily even required qualifications for it. God can grant prophecy to whomever he chooses. An example to prove this is Bilaam who was an evil man, but was nonetheless granted prophecy.

In summary, prophecy and being a great leader are simply different things. There is definitely a correlation in the Bible between great leadership and prophecy; however, prophecy ceased to occur long ago even though there have been many great leaders of the Jewish people.


In Judaism, a prophet per se means someone to whom God gives a distinct message to communicate to the people. The last prophets were at the end of the Biblical era, around 2400 years ago, helping the people get the Second Temple up and running.

What you're describing is a wonderful person, and in a broader sense we might say that such a person is doing what God put them on earth to do. But we would not call them a prophet, or accept a message they claimed to have received from God. (Mind you, the existing Scripture is quite large, so a contemporary leader could certainly say "I think we should focus more energy on this pre-existing subject or commandment now.")

Even at the individual level, many of us have had people in our lives who've helped us in significant ways, and we thank God for putting the right people in the right place in the right time. The Bible tells that Joseph got lost looking for his brothers, and a random fellow found him and gave him directions. The classical commentary Nachmanides (Spain, mid-1200s) says that some rabbis referred to this stranger as an "angel", which was just a way of saying that God can send the right people at the right time to say the right thing.

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