By: Emil G. Hirsch
Rendering in the English versions of the Hebrew , which in I Sam. ix. 9 is reported to have been the old popular designation for the later ("prophet"). The seer was an "ish Elohim," a man of God, and for a remuneration, as would appear from the story of Saul in quest of his father's asses (I Sam. ix. 3 et seq.), acted as intermediary between
As the seer is a ḥozeh, his written "visions" are called "ḥazot" (II Chron. ix. 29). The title (in the plural "ḥozim" = "seers") occurs in parallelism with "prophets" ("ro'im"; Isa. xxx. 10). The ro'im are called the heads, while the nebi'im are called the eyes of the people (ib. xxix. 10); all "vision" is become as a sealed book. In Micah the seers are quoted in one breath with the diviners (Mic. iii. 7). As for the prophets that "see vanity" and that "divine lies" ("see lies" in Ezek. xiii. 8), God's hand will be against them (Ezek. xiii. 9; comp. ib. xxii. 28).—Critical View:
Comparison of the foregoing passages makes it plain that the seer in primitive time passed, and perhaps with good reason, for a clairvoyant. Among the kindred races, the ancient Arabs and even their modern descendants, sheikswere and are found with the ability to give such counsel as Saul expected to receive from Samuel (Wellhausen, "Reste Arabischen Heidentums," 2d ed., pp.135, 136; "Z.D.P.V."1889). The distinction between both the priest ("kohen") and the diviner ("ḳosem"), on the one hand, and the seer, on the other, was probably that the kohen threw or shot lots (hence "torah"), the urim and thummim, in order to ascertain the future, and the ḳosem resorted to various tricks and incantations, while the seer spurned any of these accessories and paraphernalia, and discovered the will of
These ḥozim or ro'im became absorbed into the nebi'im, who in their earlier days were also mere shouting dervishes (hence their name, "nabi" = "shouter"), relying on song and dance to arouse themselves and others (I Sam. x. 5, 10 et seq.; "mitnabbe'im" note the "hitpa'el" in the verb in I Sam. X. 5).