From:  Habel, Norm.  “The Form and Significance of the Call Narratives.”  ZAW 77 (1965): 297-323.

Please note that most of the italicized words below are my attempt at rendering the words in Hebrew letters in the original to a form of English transliteration.  If the meaning of the Hebrew word or phrase is not evident in the context, I have supplied a translation, either with a / between the transliteration and my translation or in parentheses.  You will notice that some of the authors' names are capitalized, while others are not.  That's because I changed some of the names that needed to be edited for other reasons.  Also, Habel's way of citing biblical passages is different, i.e., he does not put a : between the chapter and verse(s).  I tried to catch most of these and change them.  However, I probably missed some.  The bold hot-link numbers in parenthesis are links to endnotes (click on the number to jump to the endnote page) and the numbers in red brackets refer to the upcoming page number of the article.  The latter will help for citation purposes. 

        It may be presumptuous to assume that additional significant contributions to the understanding of the biblical call narratives can still be made. However, working independently of E. KUTSCH and other scholars, the present writer came to the conclusion that many of the call accounts of the Old Testament are based upon a literary structure which requires further clarification and research (1). The theological import of the prophetic calls has been treated briefly by G. VON Rad (2), while the relationship between the prophetic call accounts and the form of the "action-word" or symbolic action narratives of the prophets has been given careful attention by H. W. Wolff (3). In addition, C. WESTERMANN'S basic analysis of the form of the prophetic word as Botenwort must now be taken into consideration in any serious discussion of the prophetic literature (4). Most scholars have scrutinized the various call records from a perspective other than that of concern for the literary structure or Gattung as such and the relevance of this literary form for the prophetic message (5).
        The goal of the present investigation is to isolate the primary literary features of the "call narrative", to discuss their significance where pertinent, and to trace their development as closely as possible. The early accounts of the calls of Gideon and Moses provide a logical point of departure.
I - The Calls of Gideon and Moses
It seems apparent from the literary analysis of L. Kutsch that the Gideon call narrative as such consists of Jud 6:11b-17 (6). The archaic [298] character of this passage is generally recognized. The essential unity of the section in question makes it relatively simple to establish the broad literary features. While some of these features may be considered secondary in the light of our subsequent research into the history of earlier forms of the call materials, they are basic to the underlying structure at this point. Briefly the major divisions of the literary structure of the call accounts to be analyzed are as follows: 1. divine confrontation, 2. introductory word, 3. commission, 4. objection, 5. reassurance, 6. sign. At the outset it must be recognized that this literary sequence or genre in no way excludes the incorporation of smaller secondary literary forms at appropriate places. In addition, it must be underscored that we are not concerned with a detailed theological exegesis of the texts in question, but with the analysis of recurrent literary and thematic features which are relevant for an appreciation of the call Gattung and its development. The basic literary features of the archaic call of Gideon yield the following pattern.

1. The Divine Confrontation, V. 11b-12a : "Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press . . . and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him." The agent of the divine confrontation is the malak yahweh/messenger or angel of yahweh, a mode of divine revelation appropriate in early Israelite literature (7). It is significant that the angel appears (Niphal of ra'ah - to see) to Gideon at a time of historical crisis and in the midst of his normal routine activities (cf. Am 7:15, Ex 3:1 Gen 18:1). The call, therefore, appears as a disruptive experience for which there has been no obvious preparation. The call marks the initial interruption of God in the life of the individual. Such a moment was related as a supernatural confrontation which could be comprehended with the senses and tested by rational dialogue. There are no traces of ecstasy here. That this divine confrontation ought not be divorced from the remainder of the call narrative can also be argued from the development of this feature in subsequent call episodes.

2. The Introductory Word, v.12b-13: "Yahweh is with you, mighty man of valor! And Gideon said to him, `Pray, sir, if Yahweh is with us, why. . . but now Yahweh has cast us off . . ."' The direct commission of the called individual is prefaced by an introductory word. As "word" it is a personal communication normally introduced by wey'mar/and he said. Its function is not merely to arouse the attention of Gideon [299] but to spell out the specific basis or grounds (Grund) for the commission. The introductory word is, therefore, an explanatory word and a preparatory word which will vary according to the corresponding historical situation. The greeting delineates the peculiar personal relationship between Yahweh and the individual. Gideon has been chosen for a critical role because he is God's "mighty man of valor" (cf. Jud 11:1, I Sam 9:1, I Reg 11:28) and because Yahweh is with him. yahweh amak (yahweh is with you) anticipates the closing oath of assurance in 16a and must be understood as an assertion rather than as a wish. The historical basis and occasion for the call is supplied by Gideon's own interjection in which a pertinent link is made with the past relationship between Yahweh and Israel. Gideon's words are confessionally oriented and reflect the current faith of his people. The introductory word, then, may be a "confessional" word incorporating a virtual profession of faith on the part of the one commissioned. The urgency of the crisis is heightened by the formal we'otah (and now) which introduces the apparent role of Yahweh in the Midianite dilemma. The rational consciousness of Gideon is evident throughout this narrative, as he asks "why?" or "where?" and reflects upon past traditions of his faith. This characteristic of the account suggests a further kinship between the charismatic judges and the classical prophets of Israel (8).

3. The Commission, v. 14: "And Yahweh turned to him and said, `Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?"' The commission is formulated with a direct command in the imperative and a rhetorical question in the perfect. The verbs halak (to go) and shalak (to send) have a technical connotation in this context. The essential content of the commission is expressed by an attendant clause employing waw consecutive with the perfect. Gideon's function is that of deliverer and mediator; through his strength Yahweh's deliverance will be revealed. He is more than a charismatic messenger who announces Yahweh's advent; he mediates Yahweh's historical intervention in Israel, an experience which is partially anticipated in his own call. The transition from malak yahweh (messenger/angel of yahweh) to yahweh, as the spokesman in the commission itself underscores the messenger character of the angel and the ultimate source of the divine command (cf. Gen 16:11-13). [300] The allusion to Gideon's might in v.14 is meaningless without the antecedent reference from the initial greeting in v. 12b. This fact lends additional support to the contention that the introductory word is an integral part of the structure of the call narrative here.

4. The Objection, v. 15: "And he said to him, 'Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family'." Formally the objection is regularly introduced with an appropriate ejaculatory expression which captures the mood of the speaker. Gideon's retort opens with a deprecatory bi adonai (Pray, my Lord) (cf. v. 15) (9), and proceeds with an exclamatory hinneh (behold). The attendant anoki (emphatic "I") stresses the personal element. The total insufficiency of the chosen individual seen from a human perspective stands in direct contrast to the character of the same individual from God's vantage point. Gideon, the least of the weakest clan is, by virtue of God's selection, Yahweh's mighty man of valor. In this portrait the theme of Yahweh's elective grace becomes prominent. Gideon, like Israel whom he also represents, is taken from his insignificant past and elected to a preferred status. This antithesis in the Gideon narrative (between v. 15 and 12b) is essential to the balance of the structure and offers further proof that the previous introductory word plays a significant part in the call episodes (10).

5. The Reassurance, v. 16: "And Yahweh said to him, 'I am indeed with you! And you shall smite the Midianites as one man'." The immediate response of Yahweh is related directly to the needs of the objector and is tantamount to an oath of assurance. The technical formula ki 'hyh 'mk must be translated, "I am indeed with you (11)." The ki is the archaic emphatic particle illustrated in the Ugaritic texts (12). The divine reassurance answers the initial question of Gideon as to whether Yahweh was with them in any efficacious sense (v. 13a) and the subsequent objection that Gideon was completely inadequate for the task ahead. This answer may also be [301] characterised as a "theological formula" inasmuch as it is a divine affirmation of Yahweh's character as enunciated in His covenant name. Precisely because Yahweh had revealed His nature as "God with us" the assurance of the second part of His response was possible. "I am indeed with you and therefore you shall smite the Midianites", is the theological sense of the passage. Gideon's mediatorial function is thereby further emphasized and the demand of God made inescapable. It is characteristic of the call narratives that this response of assurance repeats in essence the content of the commission. For Gideon it meant the total annihilation of Midian; the victory was a foregone conclusion.

6. The Sign, V. 17: "And he said to him, 'If I have found favor with Thee, then show me a sign that it is Thou who speakest with me'." As the wording of Gideon's request indicates, the accompanying sign (13) is designed to give additional assurance and confirmation that Yahweh is 'ami, "with me". The fourfold am/with (in v. 12, 13, 16, 17) provides both a literary and "theological" framework for the account as a whole. Of special relevance is the reason for the sign. Gideon does not ask for proof that Yahweh will conquer Midian, but for supporting assurance that Yahweh had "spoken" with him! If Yahweh had spoken the event would undoubtedly take place. What Gideon requested was additional confirmation that he was a mediator who could receive the divine "word", that he was virtually a "prophet". The precise nature of the sign involved is of secondary importance (Cf. v. 18-22 and 36-40).

       The analysis of the form and character of the call of Moses in Ex 3:1-12 demands a few preliminary remarks concerning the unity of the passage. Even if one accepts M. Noth's (14) source analysis of this text, as W. ZIMMERLI has done, (15) the E account embraces all the major features of the literary form as enunciated in the call of Gideon. According to NOTH the E sequence consists of 3:4b, 6, 9-14 (16). The call, then, begins abruptly with the words, "And God called out to him from the midst of the bush and said. . ." The expression [302]"from the midst of the bush" must be either regarded as a gloss or have some antecedent in the previous verses. If the former is true, then the call of God is left without a point of origin, a feature which is not common (cf. Gen 22:11 "from heaven", 21:17) (17). If the latter is correct, verses 2 and 3 are closely related to 4b. It is therefore worth investigating whether there is any additional evidence to suggest that Ex 3:1-6 forms a unit.
        In the opening verse Moses is associated with both Jethro and the mountain of God just as in the E account of Ex 18. In the following verses the angel of Yahweh, which we have already met in connection with the call of Gideon, cannot easily be divorced from the burning bush experience. The distinctive character of the so-called E tendenz can also be recognized in the fact that the angel of Yahweh does not appear in a bold human form typical of the Yahwist narratives, but in the disguise of a "heavenly" fire which cannot be approached. There is, moreover, a striking similarity between the various features of the appearance of the angel here and in the classic E portrait of the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:9-14). In both passages the angel cries out (qarah) from a distance (Gen 22:11 Ex 3:4; cf. 19:3). The personal summons, "Abraham! Abraham!" and the immediate reply, "Here am I", is exactly parallel to "Moses! Moses!" and the corresponding, "Here am I". Thereafter both accounts proceed with a similar twofold command dependent upon a ki clause. Gen 22:12 reads, "Do not stretch forth . . . and do not do . . . for now I know you fear God. . ." The same style reappears in Ex 3:5, "Do not draw near . . . take off your sandals . .  for the place where you are standing . . ." The similarity of form and character is unmistakable. It is difficult, therefore, to concede that the directives of v. 5 are to be disconnected from the context and assigned to a different source. In addition, the "seeing" (Hiphil of navat) of v. 6b demands some kind of visionary experience as its antecedent. This is absent if v. 2-3 are torn from the context. It is of interest to note that the Samaritan Pentateuch has Elohim instead of Yahweh in 3:4a. The preceding evidence is at least sufficient to demonstrate that regardless of the various oral traditions which may lie behind this narrative a much closer unity exists in the present text of Ex 3:1-6 than has been hitherto recognized. If two traditions have. been collated here, they cannot be readily isolated by strict literary critical criteria. Finally, [303] the structure of the call narratives also supports the substantial unity of this passage (18). To the various features of this literary form we now turn our attention.

1. The Divine Confrontation, v. 1-3, 4 a : "Moses was keeping the flock . . . and he came to Horeb . . . And the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire . . . And Moses said, `I will turn aside . . .'." Assuming that verses 1-3 belong to the Moses call narratives as such, we can trace additional lines of similarity to the call of Gideon. Moses the shepherd also encounters God during his routine activities amid a period of historical stress for the people of God. Both accounts introduce the confrontation with the formula, weyera' malak yawheh/and he saw the messenger (angel) of Yahweh. This divine intervention is vividly portrayed in the burning bush incident and the mysterious element heightened (as in Is:6 and Ez 1). Der Fremdheitscharakter des Erlebnisses is thereby made more intense (19). The experience becomes more disruptive and disturbing as the narrative proceeds. Like Gideon, Moses also makes rational observations and ponders the question "why?"

2. The Introductory Word, v. 4b-9: "God called to him out of the bush, 'Moses! Moses! . . . Do not come near, put off your shoes . . . I am the God of your father . . .' for he was afraid to look at God . . . `and now the cry of the people has come unto me ...'." Through the intimate personal dialogue of v. 4b-5 the proper attitude and stance is established for the reception of the first significant thrust of the introductory word. This key "word" (v.6) defines the distinctive and meaningful relationship between the hearer and the speaker. The effect is stunning. The confessional cliche concerning the God of the fathers is transformed in the mouth of God to read, "I am the God of your father (sing.)". The emphatic divine anoki ("I") of the I AM in the introductory word is repeated with the I AM of the reassuring word in v. 12.  Moses reflects the same awe and fear which characterizes similar theophanies and call narratives. The Egyptian crisis parallels the Midianite crisis and the historical basis for the call is underscored by the same introductory we'otah/and now (as in Jud 6:13). God has heard and [304] God has seen. Therefore, Moses must be commissioned! A selection must be made.

3. The Commission, v. 10 : "And now, go, I send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people out of Egypt." A second we'otah/and now reemphasizes the urgency of the historical dilemma. The technical verbs halak (to go) and shalak (to send) appear as preliminary idioms. The specific details of the commission are enunciated in the attendant clause (cf. Jud 6:14). Moses' function is also that of mediator and savior for the elect people of God. Even if his capacity as a messenger is limited (4:10) his role as the mediator of God's historical intervention is not nullified thereby.

4. The Objection, v. 11: "And Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt'." The ejaculatory mi anoki (who am I?)  parallels the bi adonai (pray, my Lord) of Gideon. Behind Moses' exclamation of humility (cf. I Sam 18:18, II Sam 7:18) lies the history of Moses the murderer. His commission, therefore, meant reconciliation (cf. Is 6). His protest was twofold: in his position lie could not approach Pharaoh the mighty ruler and he did not have the ability to deliver Israel from Pharaoh's hands. He was neither a messenger nor a mediator.

5. The Reassurance, v. 12a: "And He said, 'I shall indeed be with you'." The formula ki 'hyh 'mk (I am indeed with you) is identical with the response in Jud 6:16 and has essentially the same function. Yahweh's efficacious presence renders all objections invalid. This word of assurance, moreover, empowers Moses to execute his unenviable role. When Moses reiterates his objection in the following scene (v. 13-15) and professes his ignorance, the I AM formula is repeated in its most forceful form, 'ahyh asher 'ahyh/I am who I am. Yahweh imparts the power and the words. This concept of the empowering word which effects hitherto unknown changes in the prophet's life and which enables him to perform momentous feats with the divine "word" must be kept in mind as we read the classical prophets and treat their calls. The theological character of Yahweh's word of reassurance is further demonstrated by the subsequent dialogue (v. 13-15), for this word is none other than the very name of God (20). Moses is to greet the Israelites with the astounding claim that, "I AM has sent me!" a truth which Moses had experienced firsthand. In the word of assurance, therefore, is also imbedded the message which the prophetic mediator must impart.

6. The Sign, v. 12: "'And this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain."' On this occasion the 'ot (sign) [305] of assurance is freely proferred by Yahweh. The unusual character of this sign is its delayed fulfillment. It is only after Moses has executed his task as the deliverer of Israel that this confirmation will be forthcoming. The sign, then, is not only a further demonstration of Yahweh's presence but also the goal of Moses' commission. When the people of God worship Yahweh at the mountain of God, Moses will have additional assurance that his commission was of divine origin. The sign is designed to give the prophet new impetus and power rather than to offer a crutch for his weak faith. This is true despite the fact that in Moses' case the sign is only experienced after the execution of the commission. Further, it is striking that this sign involves Israel as a whole; this sign is not merely a personal word of assurance but also a public demonstration of Moses' claims (20a).

        The formal sequence of parallels, common literary pattern, similar themes and identical expressions found in the call narratives of Moses and Gideon establish the probability of a common pre-literary (or literary) form or Gattung with associated traditions utilized by the authors of these two call accounts. This common heritage provided for these authors a form appropriate for the delineation of the call of Yahweh's messengers and mediators. The use of such a form or Gattung to delineate the traditions concerning the call of an individual does not nullify the reality of a call experience as such, but it does color and modify the formulation of that experience as it is related to subsequent generations of Israel. It is important to note also that the call Gattung is not confined to the prophets but has a significant pre-prophetic history. Further investigations into the possible origins of this form will be resumed later in the discussion.

II - The Call of Jeremiah
        The preceding comparison has demonstrated a unified structure and form for the call of Yahweh's ambassadors. What relevance does this form have for the analysis and import of the prophetic call narratives ? A preliminary word about Amos is in order. The visions of Amos have frequently been associated with his call as a prophet (21). [306] These visions, however, do not exhibit the structure of the call-Gattung under discussion. First of all, the commission, which is an integral part of the Gattung, is absent from the Amos vision narratives themselves. The attendant reaction or objection of the prophet Amos is not a personal concern for his own inadequacy but a cry of intercession for Israel. Moreover, there is no accompanying sign. In general, therefore, the visions of Amos are not primarily formulated as a message of divine revelation designed to select the prophet as Yahweh's messenger, but as a series of vivid scenes depicting God's imminent intervention into the coarse of Israel's history.
        The call account of Jeremiah will be discussed before our treatment of the call of Isaiah. This procedure will serve to emphasize the close connections between the calls of Moses and Jeremiah on the one hand and the striking literary associations between the calls of Isaiah and Ezekiel on the other. The unity of Jer 1:4-10 is rarely disputed (22). The poetic features do not blur the underlying call structure. The significant transition from the third person form of address (in Ex 3 and Jud 6) to the first person, does not mean that we have a simple autobiographical entry from the prophet's diary. The prophetic call narratives are much more than autobiographical records. They are traumatic public proclamations in which the prophet announces his divine commission and thereby commits himself openly to the secret, inner compulsion from God. The call form is designed to be preached or read. In this the prophetic call narratives are parallel to the action-word narratives of Jeremiah (cf. 13: 1-11, 18:1-12). Although the call of Hosea is not formulated according to the pattern and structure of the other call narratives, it too is designed for proclamation. It consists of four action-words or symbolic actions (Hos 1:2-9; Cf. Jer 16:1-9) which are a vital part of the message of Hosea as the subsequent names of 2:18ff. demonstrate (23). It would seem, therefore, that Jeremiah and other prophets utilized the ancient commission form to announce their own message and call to Israel.
        By employing the form and some of the language of the call of Moses, Jeremiah also claims to stand in the prophetic succession of Moses. This fact is further demonstrated by Jeremiah's dependency upon the prophetic magna carta of Dtn 18: 15-22 (24). Jeremiah is motivated [307] and controlled by the word just as Moses had been. He is a mediator like Moses. Against this background we can proceed with a brief analysis of the call of Jeremiah.

1. The Divine Confrontation, v.4: "And the word of the Lord came to me saying:" In Is 6, Ez 1-3, and Is 40, the respective prophets arc called into the service of Yahweh from the midst of the heavenly council. This portrait is directly related to the appearance of heavenly beings to the mediators Moses and Gideon. Is the call of Jeremiah, however, depicted without any divine confrontation or council? Jeremiah himself makes it clear in 23:16-18 that in contrast to the visions of the human imagination which the false prophets recount, he stood in the heavenly council (sod) and heard (shamah) the word (debar). This debar in Jer 23:18 is virtually a synonym for the qol/voice which summons the other prophets within the heavenly council (Ez 1:28, Is 40:3,6, 6: 4,8). If this is true, then the opening line of Jeremiah's call may be the summons of Yahweh from the heavenly council in which Yahweh Himself is present to address the prophet (1:7,9), to stretch forth his hand toward the prophet (1:9) as in Ez 2:9, and to make contact with his mouth (1:9) as in Is 6:7. Above all, however, Jeremiah is confronted by the word. This reality of the word as an overwhelming force of God's self-revelation is attested throughout the book (2:1, 15:16 etc.). Dreams are of secondary importance in, Jeremiah's life (23:28-29). This confrontation by the word is repeated (1:11, 13:2 etc.), and with each experience the call is apparently confirmed. In the light of Is 6:1 and similar passages, we might have expected a specific historical notation concerning the thirteenth year of Josiah at the beginning of the narrative. It is not unlikely that an original historical note has been absorbed into the editor's preface (1:1-3).

2. The Introductory Word, v. 5a: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." The twofold betram (before) introduces the prior personal involvement of God whereby the peculiar personal relationship between Yahweh and His prophet is established. Jeremiah's call was no snap decision from heaven. This motif of preparation is typical of the call narratives. For Jeremiah it underscored the inescapability of an ultimate basis for his own commission. The introductory word again carries semicreedal and "theological" overtones. Creation, redemption and sanctification are placed in sharp juxtaposition; God formed (cf. Gen 2:7), knew (cf. Gen 18:19, Am 3:2) and sanctified (Ex 19:14) this individual to be His prophet at large.
[308] 3. The Commission, v. 5b: "I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." The commission is closely linked to the introductory word and presented as an accomplished fact. Gideon is similarly addressed, "Have I not sent you?" Just as God has appointed (nittaik) Abraham as the father of many nations (Gen 17:5) and Moses as eloheim to Pharaoh (Ex 7:1) Jeremiah is ordained as prophet to the nations (Cf. 6: 27). Jeremiah, it seems, uses a term for divine ordination or appointment which stems from the priestly tradition. Like many of his predecessors Jeremiah must be concerned with more than the private daily chores of Israel; his word concerns the nations (25). The usual verbs of commission, shelak and halak appear in the subsequent answer of Yahweh and define the intent of the command more precisely.

4. The Objection, v. 6: "Then I said, 'Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth'." The ejaculatory ahah adonai is heightened by the subsequent hinneh and emphatic anoki (cf. Jud 6:15). In this context the expression ahah implies both frustration (cf. Jos 7:7, Jud 6: 22, 11:35) and boldness (Jer 4:10)(26). Jeremiah, who had been called and appointed like Moses, now offers a similar excuse to Moses' (Ex 3:11, 4:10, 6:12, 7:1-2). The consciousness of a personal tension between his own will and that of God as disclosed by Jeremiah in his call increases throughout the prophet's career. The prophetic "I" becomes an important part of the prophet's role if he is to become a true mediator like Moses (cf. Ex 33:12-16, Num 14: 13-19 for Moses' retorts).

5. The Reassurance, v. 7-8: "But Yahweh said to me, `Don't say, "I am only a youth", for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command them you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you', says Yahweh". Before God Jeremiah's objection is totally invalid. Jeremiah is obliged to carry out Yahweh's commission and compelled to speak only His words. In so doing he bears the marks of a true prophet. God will direct him precisely where to go and tell him exactly what to say, just as He had promised Moses (Dtn 18:18). In the light of this assertion, the prophetic objection and the subsequent prophetic "I" must be considered as part of the mediator's divine word. Further, the objection is answered by another divine "word" which is tantamount to a quotation and which establishes a specific point of continuity [309] with the enduring "word" from the past. The ensuing assurance that the prophet need not fear his audience is grounded in a poetic formulation of the ancient oath, "I am indeed with you". The I AM persists as the determining force in the life of the prophetic mediator.

6. The Sign, v. 9-10: "Then Yahweh put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and. Yahweh said to me, 'Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See . . . to build and to plant'." Although the technical term for sign ('ot) is absent from this context, the symbolic act of Yahweh extending his compelling hand and touching the prophet's mouth serves the same function as the attendant sign for Gideon. This action provided additional confirmation that Jeremiah was a mediator who could receive the divine "word" itself. As a "sign" Yahweh's direct intervention is clearly designed to meet the prophet's specific needs (cf. Is 6:7). It is the same divine "hand" which is stretched out in the symbolic action or sign which concludes the call experience of Ezekiel (2:9). As the attendant wording reaffirms, this symbolic act of Yahweh actualizes the promise of Dtn 18:18 in the life of the prophet. Accordingly the significant features of the prophet's message are repeated (cf. Jud 6:16). The reiteration of the verbs of purpose (in v. l0) in subsequent contexts indicates the relevance of this feature of the call (27). We are now justified, however, in considering these verbs a comprehensive summary of the prophet's total message (28). They embrace an element which persists: the prophet's word will change the course of history. Clearly, Jeremiah is "more than a messenger". The irrevocable character of the prophet's commission is further reinforced by the use of the verb pekad'(appoint) in v. 10 (cf. Num 1:50, II Reg 7:17, 25:22).

III.  The Calls of Isaiah and Ezekiel
        In the calls of Isaiah and Ezekiel a slight modification of the portrait of the divine confrontation and introductory word becomes evident. This new feature stems from a second tradition which has [310] its prototype in I Reg 22:19-21. The prophet stands before Yahweh in the heavenly assembly or heavenly temple (29). The experience is not depicted as an ecstatic trance in the proper sense of the term, for rational reflection and dialogue are possible during the encounter. Jeremiah, too, speaks of this divine council to which the false prophets do not have access (23:18,22). The parallel scene from the vision of Micaiah, however, is not in itself a profession of a personal commission, but a public explanation of the prophet's actions in a specific situation. The similarity with the text of Is 6 is immediately obvious from the following table: (30)
I Reg 22:19 I saw Yahweh  
                    sitting on His throne 
                    and all the host of heaven  
                    on His right hand and left 
                20 Who will entice . . .  
                    one said one thing and . . . 
                21 I will entice him . . .
Is 6:1    I saw the Lord  
            sitting on a throne high . . . 
        2   seraphim standing above Him . . . 
        8   whom shall I send . . . 
        3   one called to another and said . . . 
        8   Here am I. Send me!
The underlying call structure which we have previously exposed is not destroyed by this new element. On the contrary, the new material tends to emphasize the significance of the confrontation and introductory word of preparation in the call narrative and to make the parallels with Ex 3:1-12 even more apparent. Despite the numerous treatments of the call of Isaiah (31), a few features demand further consideration in the light of the previous discussion.

1. The Divine Confrontation, v. 1-2: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne . . ." Despite the overwhelming glory of the sacred locale, the historical moment is just as important to the prophet's proclamation. The year was a year of transition, crisis and import; it was the year of the king's death. The details of the vision are beyond our concern here. The similarity between the fiery messengers of the heavenly court and the messenger of fire in Ex 3:2-3 may be relevant. The glory which Isaiah sees, however, is clearly greater than that of Moses.

2. The Introductory Word, v. 3-7: "And one called to another and said, `Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory' . . . and I said, `Woe is me! For I am lost . . .' And [311] he touched my mouth and said, `Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven'." This word portrays an elaborate scene in which the prophet is adequately prepared to receive the divine commission. It commences with qarah ... weamar/he called ... and he said (Cf. Ex 3:6). The word of revelation from the heavenly throne evokes an immediate reaction of terror (cf. Ex 3:5). Moses and Isaiah were prepared by divine directives to receive the call; Moses by the removal of his shoes in a holy place (Ex 3:5) and Isaiah by the cleansing of his lips before the Holy One. In Jeremiah's case God had made the prophet "holy" (kedosh here also) before be had been born. Just as Moses' lot could not be divorced from that of his people in captivity, so too Isaiah is keenly aware of the fact that he dwells among a "people of unclean lips". Thus the peculiar relationship between the prophet, his God and his people is enunciated before the actual commission is described. Another common feature of this element of the call Gattung is the inclusion of formal, semi-creedal, or theological elements from the particular trad ition f the author. The cry of the seraphim incorporates a hymnic exclamation from the cult or worship life of Israel (cf. also Ps 29:9). The response of Isaiah is couched in the form of a Wehe-Ruf which is self-imposed. The divine absolution also reflects a formal character stemming from the worship life of the prophet. In these formal expressions the prophet incorporates a virtual confession of faith into the proclamation of his message. It is significant also that Isaiah's reaction to the vision of Y shweh enthroned is depicted in the tradition of the ancient theophanies in which the person concerned exclaims that he has seen the deity (cf. Jud 6:22, 13:22 Gen 32:30; cf. Ex 3:6) and is thereby radically affected in some way.

3. The Commission, v. 8-10 : "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, `Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' Then I said, `Here am I. Send me!' And He said, `Go and say to this people, Hear and hear . . . Make the heart of this people fat . . .'. " As noted above, certain aspects of the commission are colored by the narrative of I Reg 22:10-21. Of special relevance is the summoning qol/voice which introduces God's formal command (32). Although directed to the entire assembly, it concerns Isaiah primarily. A messenger must be commissioned (shalak) to go (halak) down to the people of Israel. The content of the heavenly commission is given in the form of an oracle of doom. But the prophet's task involves more than that of an earthly messenger. Like Jeremiah, he not only reports; his word has authority [312] and impact. The prophet must change hearts and eyes and ears in Israel just as Jeremiah changes the history of nations. The prophet stands as the ambassador and representative of his God, a representative from the heavenly council.

4. The Objection, v.11a: "Then I said, `How long, O Lord?"' The reaction of Isaiah only arises after he is aware of the dimensions of his task as God's agent of doom. It is this cry of the prophet and not his initial response in v. s which belongs to this feature of the Gattung. The abrupt ejaculation, ad mati adonai/How long, oh Lord?, is just as bold as that of Jeremiah or Moses. Isaiah dares to interrupt the king. Moreover, the expression ad mati normally implies a tone of indignation rather than of tenderness (Ex 10:3, 7; Num 14: 27;
I Sam 16:21; II Sam 2:26 etc.). Thus, in Isaiah too the prophetic "I" is not absent (33).

5. The Reassurance, v. 11-13: "And He said, `Until cities lie waste . . . The holy seed is in its stump'." Yahweh's response is the reaffirmation of His former message of doom. The repetition of the message itself in variant terms was also characteristic of the calls of Jeremiah and Gideon. The authenticity of the final line of v. la cannot be proven conclusively on the basis of the literary form. Suffice it to say, that Isaiah's objection is answered directly without this final word of grace. Nevertheless, words of personal reassurance and comfort are a common feature of the call narratives. Isaiah would not need to preach doom forever. There was a remnant in the future. In addition, we have noted that vital strands of the prophet's total message are often incorporated into the call narrative at this point. There can be no doubt that the message of a remnant is a part of Isaiah's total proclamation (cf. 7:3). And inasmuch as the call narrative reflects a subsequent proclamation of the prophet's commission the inclusion of this theme may not have been out of place (34). No additional sign, however, is given to confirm the prophetic call (35).

[313]    In the light of the detailed analysis of the form of the call of Ezekiel by W. Zimmerli (36), the essential unity of Ez 1:1 - 3:15 as well as the dependency of this passage on the call of Isaiah seems to be clearly established. It remains for us but to underscore specific points of comparison between the call of Ezekiel and its literary predecessors. The call structure is readily discernible: 1. divine confrontation, 1:1-28, 2. introductory word, 1:29 - 2:2, 3. commission, 2:3-5, 4. objection (implied in 2:6 and 2:8), 5. reassurance, 2:6-7, 6. Sign 2:8 - 3:11.
        The historical preface underscores the significance of the historical orientation of the experience (cf. Is 6:1). In the divine confrontation the visionary portrait of Isaiah is elaborated and described in greater detail. The glory of the vision is further enhanced. The attendant heavenly beings, the coals of fire, the temple structure, the throne, the royal form, the glory and the voice of Is:6 are treated from the prophet's perspective in the new world of Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel too is summoned by the heavenly qol/voice (cf. Is 6:4, 8) and prepared to receive the dramatic commission as a prophet (1:28b). Isaiah needed a purging fire to cleanse his lips and to permit him to stand in the King's presence; Ezekiel needs the reviving spirit to restore him to normal and to enable him to stand in the presence of the King. Ezekiel's distinctive relationship with Yahweh is likewise defined. He is a ben adamson of man who is totally dependent upon the ruah yahweh/spirit of Yahweh for the performance of his duties. Ezekiel the priest is commissioned (shalak) into his new office as a prophet (2:3). The content of Ezekiel's specific task is to deliver decisive oracles of doom to the overly rebellious house of Israel (cf. Is 6:9f.). In this his character as a navi/prophet will be publicly recognized. Although no verbal objection follows at this point, the subsequent word of reassurance implies that Ezekiel reflected both fear and personal rebelliousness (2:6,8). The divine injunction not to be rebellious but to open his mouth willingly is more readily understood when we recognize that at this point the prophetic "I" intrudes in all of the previous call forms analyzed. For Ezekiel the prophetic "I" had to be suppressed. The prophet's ensuing dumbness can also be logically explained as a further symbol of this emphasis for Ezekiel (3:26-27). He could only speak what God planted on his lips. Ezekiel could not object and rebel as Isaiah and his predecessors had done. The words of assurance themselves develop the response given to Jeremiah. They embrace a threefold el terah/do not fear (cf. Jer 1:8) and an attendant affirmation that Ezekiel will speak "my [314] words" to the people (cf. Jer 1:7,9). The character of the sign is also related to that of Jeremiah, although much more elaborate and complete. The hand from heaven is once more stretched out (cf. Jer 1:9) and the divine word placed into the very mouth of the prophet (cf. Jer 1:9). In addition a further description of the prophet's function and immediate task as a prophet is similarly appended to the sign as an explanation (cf. Jer 1:10).

IV. The Call of II Isaiah
        Having established the form and character of the call narratives as they developed front the relatively simple forms to that of Ez 1:1 - 3:11 we are in a position to consider the application of this form in other contexts. Our attention is directed especially to Is 40:1-11 which exhibits many of the features of a call Gattung (37). The absence of a spectacular theophany to open the account may be directly related to the historical situation and theological thrust of this writer. For him the forthcoming theophany of Yahweh on the world scene was an imminent eschatological reality. This experience the prophet himself was unable to taste even in anticipation. The divine confrontation comes in a crescendo of voices. The distant voice of God (v. 1-2) is followed by the summoning voice (v. 3-5) which is followed in turn by the urgent voice whose abrupt "Cry aloud!" finally arouses the prophet's response (v. 6). Ultimately the prophet is confronted by an unbelievable new message.

1. The Introductory Word, v. 1-2: "Comfort, Comfort my people, says your God . . . for she has received from the hand of Yahweh double for all her sins." Just as in earlier calls the immediate reason for the commission of a specific individual is first enunciated. The ki (for) is threefold. A new and exciting relationship now exists between God and His people. One striking feature of this initial divine address is the plural form of the imperative. The first voice (v. 3) continues this plural imperative, but the second voice changes to the singular (v.6). It seems plausible, therefore, that a heavenly council scene similar to that in Isaiah 6 is involved (38). In the introductory word [315] God summons the heavenly council to qarah the new situation. In the following verses this proclamation (qarah v. 3a) is executed in general to the council and world at large. In v. 6a, however, the commission is made specific and one individual is selected to qarah (cf. Is 6 8) to Jerusalem.

2. The Commission, v. 3-5, 6a: "A voice cries, 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord . . . and the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.' A voice says, `Cry aloud!"' The same summoning voice was heard in the heavenly assemblies of Is 6:8 and Ez 1:28, and a similar divine qarah to that of Ex 3:4 and Is 6:3. The fourfold injunction delineates the essential features of the commission to the assembly at large. The task involves more than a simple announcement of the Lord's advent; it demands the preparation of God's people for the revelation of His kavod/glory. The same kavod which fills the earth (Is 6:3) will soon be seen by "all flesh". Once the decree has been announced in the sod/heavenly council of Yahweh it must be executed (cf. Am 3:7-8 Jer 23:18, 22)(39). The herald of Yahweh must therefore be more than a messenger. He must be the agent of his Lord. The climax of the summons is the direct address to one individual to assume the task announced abroad.

3. The Objection, v. 6-7 : "And I said, `What shall I cry?' All flesh is grass and its beauty like the flower of the field . . ." The personal reaction of the chosen individual is a sharp cry of frustration, similar to that of Isaiah and Jeremiah. The ejaculatory form mah aqarah/what shall I cry? is typical of the Gattung at this point. The objection focuses upon the "all flesh" mentioned in the commission. What can a messenger say to prepare "flesh" for the spectacular advent of Yahweh's glory. Human flesh cannot withstand the day of His coining; the prophet's task is an impossible one.

4. The Reassurance v. 8-11 : "The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God abides forever. Get up to a high mountain . . . Behold, Yahweh the Lord comes. . ." The response embraces both a direct answer to the prophet's objection (cf. Jer 1:7) and a further elaboration of the commission (cf. Jer 1:7-10). The reply of v. 8 is linked with the decree of v. 5, and reflects the same concept [316] of prophetic compulsion characteristic of the other calls. Although all flesh is transitory the word of "our God", replies the voice, must be executed regardless of the consequences. For the commissioned individual there is no escape as futile as it may appear (cf. Is 6:11). In the reiteration of the command the details of the project are made more specific (v. 9). Once again the imperative form changes. The herald is now addressed in the second person feminine. Whether Jerusalem is now designated the messenger or whether an archaic term for a herald (cf. Ps 68:11) of the heavenly host is employed is not clear. The Gattung features, however, persist. The messenger must speak God's message and "not fear" (cf. Ez 2:6; Jer 1:8). Although no specific sign follows at this point, the same hinneh/behold associated with the giving of the sign (in Jer 1:9 and Ez 3:9) introduces the final summary of the prophet's proclamation. No further sign is needed; the event is about to come to pass. The closing summary of the message is again typical of the concluding section of a call narrative. In short, it seems apparent that the literary Gattung of the call has been utilized to some extent by second Isaiah at least in Is 40:1-8 and probably in 40:1-11 (40).

V. Form, Significance and Origin
        We are now in a position to summarize the major conclusions which can be drawn tentatively from the evidence presented. There can be little doubt that the classical prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and II Isaiah appropriate and develop the call traditions reflected in the structure of the calls of Moses and Gideon. By using the same call Gattung the prophets in question establish a specific link with the past history of Israel. Their own calls, it would seem, are viewed from the historical perspective of the commission of the ancient mediators of Israel. This proposition agrees with an assertion noted in the call narratives themselves, that the prophets are both messengers and "more than messengers", both spokesmen and mediators of Yahweh's historical involvement. In this sense the prophets are successors to the saviors of old. Thus, for Jeremiah it was not only a question of claiming to be a prophet like Moses, but also of extending the historical line of continuity from the ancient mediators via the divine commission and its form.
        In the light of the previous discussion, the prophetic call accounts also seem to be the product of later reflection as the prophets [317] concerned announce their credentials to Israel at large, either orally or in writing, in accordance with the tradition of their predecessors. By employing this form the prophets publicly identify themselves as God's ambassadors. The call narratives, therefore, are not primarily pieces of autobiographical information but open proclamations of the prophet's claim to be Yahweh's agent at work in Israel. How long after the call experience itself the actual formulation of the call in terms of the Gattung is made is open to debate. Jeremiah finally, commits his call proclamation to writing some twenty-three years after the initial impulse to preach (Jer 36). The employment of the literary form in no way negates the reality of the call encounter itself (41), but underscores the relevance of this form for the public affirmation of the claims which the prophet is making as Yahweh's spokesman.
        a) The initial divine confrontation is portrayed in a manner which tends to emphasize the disruptive and overwhelming character of the call encounter which could not be readily described in terms of a normal everyday occurrence. Through this experience the person concerned claims to have met God and to have heard His overpowering word. The early literary portraits of this moment (in Ex 3, Jud 6 and similar theophany passages) involve the visible appearance of a heavenly being whose word is the word of Yahweh himself. The encounter involves a personal dialogue between the individual and the heavenly messenger. This tradition of a personal theophany. to the heroes of old is apparently modified by Isaiah and his successors who, in accordance with the pattern of Micaiah (I Reg 22:19ff.), describe this theophanic confrontation as an admission to the whole court of Yahweh's messengers among whom Yahweh sits enthroned as King. In the vision of Ezekiel this scene is given its most elaborate treatment. The prophet, it would seem, is suggesting that the theophanies experienced by Israel's past leaders are ultimately related to their own. In recounting their own call they preserve the ancient dialogue character of the experience which is typical of the mediatorial office. In this way the prophets also guard against classifying their experience as an ecstatic suspension of the personality. Inasmuch as the various formal elements of the call accounts, including the opening confrontation, are so basic to an understanding of the material, it is virtually impossible to analyze the psychological dimensions of the prophetic calls. The form does not merely reflect the inner emotions of the prophet; it reflects the Gattung appropriate for his message.
[318]    b) It became apparent from the balance and structure of Jud 6:11b-17 that the introductory word or address was a separate and primary element of the call Gattung. Ultimately the preceding divine interpretation as such is of secondary importance to the communication of the "word" which follows. This introductory word provides the necessary ground and background to the specific commission which is to follow. The distinctive personal relationship between Yahweh and the chosen individual is thereby enunciated; his status, stature and character before Yahweh are publicly affirmed. One persistent thematic element in this feature of the Gattung is the preparation of the mediator or prophet. Jeremiah was divinely consecrated before birth, while Isaiah, Ezekiel and Moses, in particular, are prepared by God's directives and action to receive the subsequent commission. The "background" character of the introductory word is also evident from the frequent link which is made with the faith and heritage of Israel, whether it be a reference to "the God of the Fathers" (Ex 3:6, 13), the technical language of Israel's covenant faith (Jer 1:5,) or the hymnic and formal elements from the worship life of God's people (Is 6:3-7). The dynamic continuity of the divine word in Israel is thereby further emphasized. These factors suggest a "semiconfessional" nature for this segment of the Gattung. The call of the prophet or mediator establishes a historical connection between Yahweh's past and present involvement in Israel's history.
        c) The actual commissioning of the person involved is regularly couched in the terms of a direct personal imperative which embraces the essential goal of the task assigned. The verbs halak and halak emphasize the authoritative and formal aspect of this feature. The command, however, is more than "Go and say!" For Moses and Gideon it is basically, "Go and save." For Isaiah it is tantamount to "Go and damn!" The role is the same but the goal is reversed. In each case it becomes apparent that the commission involves a range of activities which is beyond the range of the individual's natural ability. He is to be both a spokesman and an agent of Yahweh's imminent intervention in Israel. His commission is also tantamount to a confirmation of Yahweh's approval and acceptance of the individual as His own ambassador. This fact gives added significance to the theme of personal preparation which is typical of the preceding introductory word. A further element associated with the command from Yahweh is the voice (qol), first implied in Ex 3:4, which summons the individual's attention and which may shed additional light upon the setting of the call of Jeremiah.
        d) The objection is usually composed of a brief retort introduced by an ejaculatory cry which is directly related to the specific concerns of the individual. The mediatorial character of the elected [319] individual may also be implied in this feature. The liberty of the prophets as it is reflected in the bold prophetic "I" is, therefore, apparently linked with the bold answers of Gideon and Moses, to say nothing of the reactions of Abraham, Joshua, or Samuel. To object to a divine commission or decision may not be merely a sign of the prophet's innate humility or sense of inadequacy, but rather a part of his office as servant, mediator and agent of Yahweh. For the prophetic "I" must be viewed both as the prophet's ego in dialogue with Yahweh as well as in action for Yahweh.
        e) The reassurance incorporates a direct divine response which forcefully answers the specific objection of the person commissioned by reaffirming the previous command and by assuring the individual that Yahweh is both serious and dynamically present in the very word He has uttered. The goal of the commission is often repeated in essence at this juncture. Of special relevance is the formula, "I am indeed with you" which is repeated in the calls of Gideon, Moses and Jeremiah. The same thought is implied in all the call narratives. In this formula the finality of the divine commission and the inevitability of the divine mission are bound together (42). The name of the divine I AM is at stake. Once the word has been spoken and the decree made public the divine plan must go into effect. This feature gives us a further insight into the concept of prophetic compulsion. The germ of the idea was already in the ancient call accounts. The spoken word from heaven is inescapable. It must take its destined course and the person to whom it is directed must become its vehicle. The prophet asserts, therefore, that he is driven by the spoken word and not by some ecstatic feeling. The account and form of his call is a testimony to this assertion.
        f) The concluding sign is a further confirmation of the "I am with you" character of the assurance. This sign is not simply a proof to satisfy the personal curiosity of the person being called. In the call of Gideon, it was already viewed as a further demonstration that Yahweh had spoken. The sign is always related to the debar/word. It strengthens the commission, gives additional impetus to the word and further enables the individual to act as God's agent. And just as the sign for Moses involved all Israel, the signs which the prophets received were also public credentials of their commission. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel the compact summary of the prophet's role is presented after the sign is given. In II Isaiah and Isaiah, where the sign is absent, this summary is appended directly to the word of reassurance.
[320]     In this summary the studied and general message of the respective prophets is discernible. Certain differences in the character of the several signs involved also need to be noted. Whereas the sign of Gideon is requested as confirmation prior to the execution of his commission, that of Moses (in Ex 3) is unsolicited and takes place after the performance of his command. In the alternate tradition of Ex 4, however, Moses receives signs immediately after his objection is voiced. The confirmatory symbolic acts or "sign" in Jer 1 and Ez 2 are more closely related to the visionary experience of the prophet than to some subsequent miraculous incident.
        In the light of the preceding analysis we are justified in asking whether there is any plausible precedent from the life and heritage of Israel for the specific Gattung which we have isolated. C. Westermann has demonstrated the relationship between certain prophetic formulae and the ancient form of the Botenwort (43). Do we possess any description of the commissioning of a messenger or ambassador within the early history of Israel which may shed additional light on the origin of the literary form in question? We suggest that the commissioning of Abraham's servant in Gen 24 offers a logical precedent. That the narrative of this chapter reflects an archaic practice and tradition from the life of Israel needs little verification (44). There is no obvious reason to assume that the Jahwistic author reformulated his portrait of a human commissioning in the light of a subsequent Gattung involving God's commissioning of His agents. In any case, the stereotype cliches and expressions from the later call narratives have not been impressed upon the text of Gen 24. Nevertheless, there is an underlying sequence of presentation which suggests a specific practice and form associated with the commissioning of a special ambassador in the service of his master.
        According to the Jahwist portrait, the servant is summoned before his lord to receive an unusual and important command. The seriousness of the moment is underscored by the attendant oath which the dying Abraham imposes upon his servant. This occasion is not depicted as any ordinary meeting; it is a confrontation, a serious and crucial dialogue. It is immediately obvious that the servant is more than a messenger who must deliver a simple report. [321] He represents Abraham abroad. The commission involves undertaking a crucial journey (halak) to Abraham's family and obtaining an acceptable bride for Isaac. The servant and not the son is sent! One striking characteristic of the account is the servant's objection to the form of his master's commission. The servant makes a counterproposal that Isaac could return to the land of Abraham's heritage. The servant apparently had the right of response in oaths of this nature. As a simple messenger he would be obliged to obey without question; he would be only the mouthpiece of his overlord. To the servant's counterproposal Abraham gives an emphatic "Beware!" To the underlying concern of the servant which gives rise to this proposal Abraham gives a twofold word of reassurance: Yahweh's angel will go with the servant and the validity of the oath will depend upon the willingness of the bride to leave home. The ceremony is thereupon concluded with the oath ritual described.
        The details of the ceremony are not as important for our immediate purposes as the servant's recapitulation of the ceremony and attendant experiences. When the servant arrives at the house of Laban, he must first relate his errand, or in the words of the text, announce his commission (debar). As the ambassador of Abraham, therefore, the servant first of all outlines his credentials and his role to his audience before he proceeds with the mundane matter of eating. The servant's presentation repeats the details of Abraham's commission with only minor variations, but appends a pertinent introductory word and the subsequent sign experience. The sequence of the servant's speech runs as follows

a. Introductory Word, v. 34-36, in which the servant gives the ground and background of the commission. He spells out his personal relationship to Abraham, the situation in Abraham's household and the status of Abraham's son who needs an appropriate wife. The same basic ingredients are to be found in the introductory word as it appears in the .calls of Gideon or Moses and their prophetic successors.

b. Commission, v. 37-38, in which the command of Abraham is quoted as a direct imperative. The weighty character of this commission is illustrated by the use of the emphatic negative lo teqak/do not take and the oath formula am lo. The goal of his task can be summarized as, "Go (halak) and take a wife for my son!" He is truly Abraham's Personal representative.

c. Objection, v. 39, according to which the servant recounts his concerns and objection to the form of the master's commission. It is remarkable that this feature should be repeated at all in the servant's speech. Its presence favors the theory that when an ancient ambassador or representative of this nature presented his credentials he [322] was at liberty to include his own contribution to or part in the commission. The servant's words are introduced with the same omar/I said characteristic of the prophetic call narratives. The objection itself opens with the particle aly/perhaps and is summarized in the briefest possible form. As in the case of the call narratives, the individual's interjection is brief and to the point. The servant's subsequent counterproposal is here omitted, inasmuch as it does not concern the household of Laban.

d. Reassurance, v. 40-41, incorporating Abraham's twofold response. The immediate reply is the promise that the malak yahweh will be "with you." When the Lord speaks through his malak Ex 3:12 and Jud 6:16, his word of assurance is the formula "I am with you". The connection seems more than accidental. The presence of the angel "with you" guarantees the successful execution of the commission. Likewise the words, "I am indeed with you" insure the involvement and effective presence of Yahweh in the mediator's commission. It is of interest also that the malak who is commissioned (shalak) by Yahweh to protect his messengers (Gen 24:40), becomes the commissioning angel for Gideon and Moses. In addition to this word of assurance, the servant repeats the direct answer of Abraham to the servant's objection in an abbreviated form. In the same response is included a virtual repetition of the initial command of v. 3s. All of these characteristics of the words of reassurance are common to most of the call narratives discussed above.

e. Sign, v. 42-43, where the servant repeats the subsequent incident which confirms the validity of his commission. This sign was not just for his own benefit. When the entire episode is related, Laban and Bethuel agree that the debar in question comes from God (v. 50). Hence the sign involved here has a similar force to the signs found in the call narratives.

        The basic structure of Gen 24:35-48 in its context and the similarity of the respective features of this narrative and the call Gattung discussed above arc more than coincidental. They demand an explanation. One logical answer is that the Gattung for the call of a divine representative was taken over from the practice reflected in Gen 24:34-48 according to which ambassadors or messengers on a special mission presented their credentials in a specific order and manner. In so doing they not only spelled out the reason for their coming, but also repeated the commission ceremony from their master in which the precise words of the command were preserved, their own objections registered, and the assurance of the protective angel's presence given. In addition the agent of the overlord could adduce any further evidence, such as an omen or sign, which would give added weight to his claims. By utilizing this ancient material the [323] later authors and prophets highlight the primary function of the called individual. The Gattung concerns the commissioning of messengers in God's service. They are, however, both messengers and more than messengers, for they represent their Overlord abroad. They are mediators of Yahweh's dynamic word on earth and agents of his personal advent through the events of Israel's history. Thus Jeremiah must "pluck up and break down, build and plant" just as Gideon must "rescue" or Isaiah "harden, deafen and blind". Another major conclusion which is confirmed by this practice described in Gen 24:35-48, concerns the public proclamation of the call narrative. If the Gattung arises from the practice of an ambassador publicly presenting his credentials before the appropriate audience, then it seems logical that the goal of the prophetic formulation of the call in this Gattung is to announce publicly that Yahweh commissioned the prophet in question as His representative. Thus the word of the call narrative gives the Indiv idual's credentials as a prophet, messenger and ambassador from the heavenly council. This word summarizes the ultimate commission from the Master.