Prophet of faith and political justice, Isaiah lived in Jerusalem in the second half of the eighth century BC during the reigns of Ahab and Hezekiah. Isaiah receives the believers in the invitation staircase of the shrine. He is the first on the list of the Vulgate (sacred texts translated for popular understanding) because he is the most important prophet and author of the first book of the prophets.
He lived in exile in Babylon in 597 BC. The prophet Ezekiel’s role is to welcome and call the believer to climb the stairs to encounter Christ on the Calvary, the highest point in the main altarpiece inside the sanctuary. Even being known as the prophet of the exile in Babylon, his walk is discrete, and only one foot appears. His gesture is like a calling, preaching in distant lands with prophetic, almost catastrophic, words.
Known for his prophecies that directly touched the people of his time, Jeremiah had the courage to denounce leaders, priests and false prophets. He pointed out the falsehood of religious practices and acts of idolatry that came to a Jerusalem ravaged by greed and adorned with gold and the fabric of luxury. For forty years he lashed at the priests and military until he was arrested. In his determination to search the truth, he was not ashamed to express his anguish, opening his soul so that everyone came out in defense of the poor.
Jonah – son of Amittai of the tribe of Zebulun, Israel – lived in the north of this region at the time of Jeroboam II. His mission was to admonish the inhabitants of the capital of Assyria, Nineveh, to repent from their cruelties, but without success. Nahum subsequently predicted its destruction. Felling that he could be killed, Jonah fled to Tarshish. During a storm at sea he was swallowed by a whale and remained there for three days and three nights. To him is attributed the writing of the book of Jonah of the Old Testament, dated as 585 BC.
Joel is one of the twelve Minor Prophets and the second among them. His name means Yahweh is God. He described catastrophes such as the plague of locusts that would devastate vineyards and orchards. He also announced that God will come to the Last Judgment, when the trumpets of angels will announce the end of times.
Baruch does not enter the list of Major Prophets. Rather, he is regarded as a Minor Prophet. He lived in Babylon, and his writings confirm that the chosen people did not hear the words of the prophets, reason why they were in captivity. He was a learned man, a Jewish scribe who transcribed the sacred texts of the Torah scrolls. He allegedly wrote five books of the Old Testament – sayings of Baruch – and a sixth, with the prophecies of Jeremiah. Hence his function to keep the transcribed sacred texts.
Amos belonged to a humble family of shepherds. He lived around 760 BC and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. He is one of the twelve Major Prophets and his preaching with direct and simple words denounced the excessive wealth of the rich and the misery of the poor. He also preached against his own people that, lost in luxury, forgot that they were the chosen people and therefore deserved punishment as much as the pagan nations.
Nahum is known for his prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. This fact is narrated with incisiveness and literary beauty, but in direct and forceful language that this fall was a work of God. He is the seventh of the Minor Prophets and lived in the seventh century BC. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah, who also prophesied the fall of Nineveh.
Habakkuk, the eighth of the minor prophets, was from the tribe of Levi and was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. When the prophet Daniel was stuck in the pit with the lions, God asked him to take food to Daniel, guided by an angel. He spent a few years in captivity in Babylon and, back to Jerusalem, is regarded as the guardian of Solomon’s temple.