We see from I Kings xviii., 2 Kings x., that great Baal temples had two classes of ministers, kohanim and nebhiim, " priests " and " prophets," and as the former bear a name which primarily denotes a soothsayer, so the latter are also a kind of priests who do sacrificial service with a wild ritual of their own.
This is clearly shown a few verses farther down, where we see that there were already in Samuel's time people known as nebhiim, but that they were not seers.
Samuel in his later days appears presiding over the exercises of a group of nebhiim at Ramah, where they seem to have had a sort of coenobium (Naioth), but he was not himself a nabhia - that name is never applied to him except in I Sam.
But again this special type of nebhiim seems to have been a new thing in Israel in the days of Samuel.
The appearance of the nebhiim in the time of Samuel was, it would seem, as is explained in the article Hebrew Religion, one manifestation of the deep pulse of suppressed indignant patriotism which began to beat in the hearts' of the nation in the age of Philistine oppression, and this fact explains the influence of the movement on Saul and the interest taken in it by Samuel.
But we know that there were nebhiim among the Canaanites; the "prophets" of Baal appear in the history of Elijah as men who sought to attract their god by wild orgiastic rites.
In admitting that the name was borrowed, we are not by any means shut up to suppose that the Hebrew nebhiim simply copied their Canaanite neighbours.
The 1 If this account of the origin of the nebhiim is correct (cf.