ט לְפָנִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, כֹּה-אָמַר הָאִישׁ בְּלֶכְתּוֹ לִדְרוֹשׁ אֱלֹהִים, לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה, עַד-הָרֹאֶה: כִּי לַנָּבִיא הַיּוֹם, יִקָּרֵא לְפָנִים הָרֹאֶה
Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he said: 'Come and let us go to the seer'; for he that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a seer.--
What is this verse telling us? Read it again let it sink in. The Tanach is giving us a short lesson in philology. It is telling us that the word נביא Navi - prophet was not the original Hebrew word for a man of God. Rather the earlier word for a man of God was a רואה Roeh - a seer.
Fine so in the good ole days of Biblical times the word Roeh was used. Later on the word Navi was used. Why should you care?
Why is the Tanakh telling us this. Simply because a few verses later the Book of Samuel quotes Saul and his lad using this obscure term - Roeh.
יא הֵמָּה, עֹלִים בְּמַעֲלֵה הָעִיר, וְהֵמָּה מָצְאוּ נְעָרוֹת, יֹצְאוֹת לִשְׁאֹב מָיִם; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָהֶן, הֲיֵשׁ בָּזֶה הָרֹאֶה.
As they went up the ascent to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them: 'Is the seer here?'
Apparently this word Roeh was obscure enough to the audience of Samuel that an explanation was required. We learn that in Shaul's time the word Navi had not yet become prevalent. Any use of the word Navi in the book of Samuel is the due to the language of a later writer who wrote in an era when the word Navi had already become the norm.
Now wait just one second..... the Pentateuch talks about prophets quite a lot right? Now what word does the Torah use to describe prophets? Hmmm?
"וְעַתָּה הָשֵׁב אֵשֶׁת הָאִישׁ כִּי נָבִיא הוּא וְיִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעַדְךָ וֶחְיֵה וְאִם אֵינְךָ מֵשִׁיב דַּע כִּי מוֹת תָּמוּת אַתָּה וְכָל אֲשֶׁר לָךְ."
"כִּי יָקוּם בְּקִרְבְּךָ נָבִיא אוֹ חֹלֵם חֲלוֹם וְנָתַן אֵלֶיךָ אוֹת אוֹ מוֹפֵת."
"נָבִיא מִקִּרְבְּךָ מֵאַחֶיךָ כָּמֹנִי יָקִים לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵלָיו תִּשְׁמָעוּן."
"נָבִיא אָקִים לָהֶם מִקֶּרֶב אֲחֵיהֶם כָּמוֹךָ וְנָתַתִּי דְבָרַי בְּפִיו וְדִבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶם אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּנּוּ."
"וְלֹא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ יְהוָה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים."
...to name a few
The Torah always uses the word Navi to describe a prophet
THE WORD ROEH IS NEVER USED IN THE PENTATEUCH TO REFER TO A PROPHET
THIS MEANS, IF WE ARE TO BELIEVE THE BOOK OF SHMUEL, THAT THE PENTATEUCH WAS AUTHORED AT LEAST AFTER THE ERA OF SHAUL
I fear that this is a another pretty big challenge Orthodox belief and traditional TMS. The beauty of it is that you have to argue not with Wellhausen not with Kugel but with the Biblical author of Sefer Shmuel to get around this slight problem.
Is there a way out of this dilemma while still maintaining the pashut peshat of the verse in Sefer Shmuel? Am I making too much of this verse? Am I misunderstanding something?
I doubt that there is an easy solution to this but I would love to hear anyone's take on it.