Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth, U.K./Bridgeman Art Library

“I will bring disaster on you,” the prophet Elijah (at left) rants at King Ahab. He then threatens the king’s wife: “The dogs will devour Jezebel” (1 Kings 21:21, 23). In this painting by Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842–1942), Naboth, the unfortunate neighbor whom Jezebel had killed because he refused to give his vineyard to the king, lies dead at their feet.

In Christian tradition, the prophets are typically seen as rugged individualists; the encounter between Elijah and the king and queen is cited as evidence that prophets were rebels who bucked the monarchic establishment. But, as Rolf Rendtorff suggests in the accompanying article, Jewish tradition indicates that the Hebrew prophets were in truth the ultimate insiders, devoted to upholding God’s law and institutions and to making sure that both the monarchs and their people did the same.