Just curious.

I read about Nathan Hanavi and Gad Hachozeh here.

Are those the same job?

  • 1
    I thought we had this question already, but I don't see it. Anyway, one avenue for investigation is (IIRC) Tora T'mima or maybe it was N'tziv on "vatelech lidrosh es Hashem" at the beginning of Tol'dos.
    – msh210
    Feb 27, 2017 at 13:18
  • The Malbim in Shmuel 1 provides an explination, if I get a chance I'll put it up Feb 27, 2017 at 17:54

3 Answers 3


The Targum Yonason on Shmuel 9:9 seems to equate the term Chozeh with Roeh.

Based on that understanding, the Malbim on Shmuel 9:9 eloquently explains the difference between a Navi and a Roeh as such (See full text there):

(Source provided from Sefaria.org)

אומר כי יש הבדל בין הנביא בדור אחרון ובין הרואה לפנים, שהנביא נקרא שמו על שם דברותיו ותוכחותיו (מלשון ניב שפתים) על כי ה' דבר בו וישלחהו להגיד לעם פשעם ולבית יעקב חטאתם, ולא שלחהו במלאכות ה' רק לצורך עניני הכלל והגוי כולו ולא חל רוח הקודש עליו להראותו דברים פרטיים הנוגעים אל היחידים, אבל הרואה נקרא בשמו על שם שהיה צופה ברוח הקודש השורה עליו כל הדברים ההויים והעתידים וגם עניני היחידים ופרטיהם, ועל כן היו בורחים מן הנביא אשר היה תמיד מגיד פשע ומוכיח עלי עון, ורדפום אחר הרואה באשר כל אחד השיג ממנו מבוקשו על הגניבה ועל האבידה ועל החולה ועל האשה והבנים, והיו נותנים לו תשורה ומתן בעבור שהתבודד לעיין על עניניהם,

(The verse is) saying that there is a difference between a Navi in the later generation and the Roeh of old, for the Navi is called a "Navi" because of his words and rebukes (from the term "uttering of the lips) for G-d spoke to him and sent him to tell the people their sins and the house of Jacob what they were guilty of, and was not sent with the the work of G-d, rather for the needs of the general population and the nation as a whole. Ruach HaKodesh did not rest upon (the Navi) to show him specific matters pertaining to individuals. However a "Roeh" is called such because he would see with Ruach HaKodesh and matters of the future as well as matters of individuals and their details would rest on him. Therefore (the people) would run from the Navi who would always tell them of their sin and rebuke their transgression, and pursue the Roeh in that everyone would inquire of his and ask regarding their stolen and lost items, about their maladies and about their wives and children and would give a offering and gift because of because he (the Roeh) would set himself to look into these matters

Hope this is helpful

  • Do we know that hozeh and roeh are identical?
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 21:04
  • what do you mean? Feb 27, 2017 at 21:31
  • The question was about a hozeh not a roeh
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 21:46
  • noted. deleting now. Feb 27, 2017 at 21:49
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    @TrustMeI'mARabbi I am not taking issue with the Malbim in any way. I'm asking you about how you are understanding his usage as compared to the Targum. It states clearly that the prophecy in Isaiah is 'chazone', meaning from a 'Chozeh'. Isaiah is after Shmuel, although not as late as the minor prophets. In Shmuel 2 24:11, Gad is referred to as both a Navi and a Chozeh. In Habakkuk 1:1 it says that his type of prophecy is 'Chazone' (חזה) and Habakkuk is clearly a later prophet. In the case of Elisha and the Shunamite, Elisha's visions clearly relate to her future as an individual. Feb 28, 2017 at 19:47

HALOT suggests this etymology for נָבִיא:

to be associated with the Akkadian verb nabû to name, call; from which is derived נָבִיא, which may have an active sense “speaker, herald, preacher” or (more probably) a passive sense “one who has been called”

While it notes that חֹזֶה is the participle of חזה, which has the meaning of "to see, behold". Some of the examples it gives are:

God sees Ps 11:4 17:2 Sir 15:18, is watching over with עַל cj. Jb 3429 (Ehrlich);
man sees God Ex 24:11 Jb 19:26f חָזָה מַחֲזֶה to see a vision Nu 24:4.16 Ezk 13:7
to see as a seer Am 1:1
‏חָזָה לוֹ‎ to select for oneself Ex 18:21 ‏ח׳ בְ‎ to see with pleasure, satisfaction (→ ראה 10) Mi 4:11 Ps 27:4 (= experience) Jb 36:25 Song 7:1

The connection between the two words is obvious: prophets and seers were (or falsely claimed to have been) given visions of the future by God.

But actually this is only a small part of the role of a prophet. Visions of the far future are rare in the scriptures. Instead most of their messages from God implored the people to repent of their sin and turn back to him in faith. When the prophets foretold judgement it wasn't necessarily because they were given a vision of the future, but because Israel's covenant with YHWH promised curses on the sinful (Deuteronomy 27-28). They didn't need visions to know that God would judge the unrepentant. They were called prophets because they obeyed God's call to them to speak boldly to the nation.

But although the term "seer" may more strongly imply that the person has been given visions than a "prophet" implies (who might receive only a message rather than a vision), it seems to me that the two terms are pretty synonymous in the scriptures.

  1. Particular people are consistently called one title, such as Nathan the prophet and Gad the seer, even though their roles were very similar. Gad's speech in 2 Samuel 24:11-13/1 Chron. 21:9-12 did not involve a vision, and neither did Jehu the son of Hanani the seer in 2 Chronicles 19:2-3.

  2. In Amos 7:12 the seer Amos is instructed to prophesy.

  3. חֹזֶה is very commonly used in parallel with other terms without clear differences:

    • with נְּבִיאִ֛ים (prophets) in Isaiah 29:10
    • with רֹאִים֙ (another word for seers) in Isaiah 30:10
    • with קֹּ֣סְמִ֔ים (diviners) in Micah 3:7
  4. In Chronicles, after it has finished telling a king's story, it often refers the reader to go to the writings of both a prophet and a seer:

    • Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer (1 Chron 29:29)
    • Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the history of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? (2 Chron 9:29)
    • Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the chronicles of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer? There were continual wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. (2 Chron 12:15)
  5. Aside from these parallels, the words are largely complementary - most authors only use one of the words. A graph showing the hits per 1000 words for 'prophet' and 'seer'

  • The connection between the two words is obvious: prophets and seers were (or falsely claimed to have been) given visions of the future by God. But actually this is only a small part of the role of a prophet. Visions of the far future are rare in the scriptures. Instead most of their messages from God implored the people to repent of their sin and turn back to him in faith. You seem to be drawing a false dichotomy between prophecy consisting of exhortations towards repentance, and "visions".
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:20
  • They were called prophets because they obeyed God's call to them to speak boldly to the nation. Is this your own idea? While the prophets may have initiated their own castigation, there are certainly instances of prophetic revelation consisting of ethical guidance to the nation; e.g. Jeremiah 9:22.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:22
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    @mevaqesh Not really, I'm trying to correct the pop culture view of prophets which many readers will have. The prophets neither exclusively spoke about the future nor did they never speak about the future. They sometimes did, but they predominantly spoke about the present and what the past (the covenant promises) means for the present. The pop culture view of a prophet is the same as a seer, but we can't assume they are because they have different word roots. But ironically, after examining the textual evidence I think they are close to synonymous in fact. Feb 27, 2017 at 14:26
  • Gad's speech in 2 Samuel 24:11-13/1 Chron. 21:9-12 did not involve a vision You can't state that absolutely. More accurately, we are not informed through which medium God conveyed this information to Gad; whether through an audio experience, a visual one, or something else. Furthermore, isolated cases where a "seer" isn't explicitly described as having a vision, is hardly evidence that the term חזה doesn't carry a connotation distinct from נבא
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:26
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    @YaacovDeane I don't find referencing dictionaries to be odd nor considering their suggested etymologies. "Old Testament" is just a convention used in English speaking academics. Even if originally it had certain theological connotations, it doesn't need to still have them now in all uses.
    – Double AA
    Feb 27, 2017 at 19:03

The term Navi is a generic term for one to whom G-d speaks. It is taken from the expression ניב שפתים (Isaiah 57:19) which is the idea of the lips drooling. When a Prophet on a level lower than Moshe experiences prophecy, they lose control of many of their bodily functions including drooling. The expression Navuah is the process of communication.

Chozeh is referring to a prophet who receives a specific level of prophecy on the level of vision (See Zohar, parshat Pekudai, 248:a, chapter 533-536 for details). This is also found at the end of tikkun 39 in Tikkunei Zohar, 79b.

ועוד ויאמר אלקים יהי אור. דא נבואה במראה דאתמר בה (במדבר יב) במראה אליו אתודע ואיהי חזון

That is the level of Chazone, like Isaiah 1:1. This expression is also used in connection with the level of Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy like is found in Tehillim 58:11.

יִשְׂמַח צַדִּיק כִּי חָזָה נָקָם פְּעָמָיו יִרְחַץ בְּדַם הָרָשָׁע:

In this example, Moshe's prophecy is expressed with the phrase of chazah, like in a vision. In chapter 533 from the Zohar cited, this is described by the phrase Zeh.

מאתר דא, ינקי כל אינון מאריהון דחכמתא, דקיימן למנדע במראה, או ברזא דחלמא

This phrase is described as being able to look at something clearly and say, This is the thing. A good discussion of the concept of Moshe's level of prophecy can be found here.

The lower levels of prophecy come from the level of hearing and are called Bat Kol and Ruach HaKodesh among many other names. In contrast to the level of Zeh, this lower level is described by the phrase Koh (כֹּה אָמַר ה')*

This is discussed in the commentary of Rabbeinu Bechai on the Torah (Devarim 33:8) and in Sha'ar Ruach HaKodesh (Drush 1) of Rabbi Chaim Vital.

The different terminology is only distinguishing between the level from which the prophet receives, meaning the source of their prophecy or the level of his reception, meaning the prophets ability to contain and absorb the message. In general, prophets serve the purpose of helping the people to return to the service of G-d. That may be directed to the Jewish people or to the nations at large.

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    Rabbenu Bahya does not seem to answer the OP's question. He does not discuss the term חזה at all.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 13:55
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    I am not seeing an answer to the OP's question in Zohar, parshat Pekudai, 248:a. I might be missing it. Mind quoting some of the relevant text?
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 15:24
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    You discuss two words (Navi and Chozeh) and two levels of prophecy (Zeh and Koh) but I don't see anything here that explicitly defines those in terms of each other (mevaqesh noted that none of your sources appear to mention the root חזה). What source explicitly defines Chozeh with Zeh, and defines Navi as the generic term? Is that just your own idea?
    – Double AA
    Feb 27, 2017 at 19:05
  • @DoubleAA The Zohar cited defines it that way and explicitly. It explains that this higher level of prophecy described as 'Zeh' is related to the aspect of vision and in Moshe's case is emphasized with the term 'Ispaklariah HaMeirah'. Other prophets who receive on that level but lower than Moshe are described with the term 'Chozeh'. To help you, I have also included the quotation from the Tikkunei Zohar which says that "Nevuah via vision" is "Chazon". Feb 27, 2017 at 19:43
  • The problem with this last answer is in this week's Parsha of Bshalach when Miriam is called a Nivea in respect to the singing and drum playing that she did at the shores of the yams suf. Banging on drums in a rhythmic pattern and inspiring others and off the cuff spontaneous composition of a Shira that really is a song that requires music and a beat does not happen with someone who loses control of function of their body but retains heightened control of their mind and body. It seems to me that we cannot determine the exact parameters for the term Nevuah.
    – user18564
    Jan 16, 2019 at 13:57

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