Accounting for the Prophets
Who were the seven female prophetesses (nevi'ot)?
Stanley Turtletaub wrote:
Someone asked me if Rachel and Leah were prophetesses like Sara and Rivka. I answered yes. For Leah, I responded that she foresaw that she was to marry Esav and cried and pleaded with Hashem until her lot was changed. But how do we see that RacheI was a prophetess?
Dear Stanley Turtletaub and Phil,
The Talmud states: "48 prophets and 7 prophetesses prophesied to the People of Israel." The prophetesses are identified as Sara, Miriam, Devora, Chana, Avigail, Chulda and Esther.
The Talmud goes on to explain that, although there were actually thousands of other prophets, these were the ones whose prophecy was written down to teach repentance and give direction to future generations.
Both Rachel and Leah were prophetesses. For example, Leah foretold that Reuven would lose his birthright to Yosef, and that Reuven would try to save Yosef's life. Rachel knew prophetically that Yaakov would only have twelve sons; thus when she bore Yosef, Yaakov's 11th son, she prayed only for "another son" and not for "more sons."
- Tractate Megillah 14a, Rashi ibid.
- Bereishet 29:32, 30:24
- Siftei Chachamim, Bereishet 29:32