He stands on a sun-bleached dune, his tangled hair blowing in the wind and his dark eyes bearing an intense, faraway look. His hand grips a well-worn staff, and his sheepskin cloak clings to his gaunt frame.
He appears to be looking beyond the crowd gathered around him, as if he were gazing into a hidden realm. He opens his mouth, and the words that come out describe obscure visions and offer mysterious riddles.
While somewhat fanciful, images like this one often come to mind when we think of a prophet. We envision a person who is out of step with the world around him, speaking in mysterious oracles. Perhaps we even imagine a person whose fasting, prayer, and discipline have harmed his ability to think clearly.
Now, compare this image to the picture you might get of a successful rancher, an influential cleric, or a member of the royal family. Wouldn’t you expect these people to be articulate, clean-cut, and worldly-wise? People like these usually aren’t prone to the ecstasies or riddles of the…
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