The word ‘na•vi’ is one of two used in the Bible for a prophet. The other is ‘cho•ze,’ which is translated as ‘seer.’
The word ‘na•vi’ is a derivative of the root verb ‘bo.’ (The English phonetic transliteration of ‘bo’ fails to show the connection to ‘na•vi,’ but the Hebrew letters are consistent). The root ‘bo’ means ‘coming.’ ‘Na•vi’ then is the one who sees what is coming.
Here, Hebrew merely does not give a specific indication of how the ‘na•vi’ knows the future. The narratives of the prophetic chapters do that explicitly. The other name is ‘cho•ze,’ ‘seer.’ This word indeed originates from ‘cha•zon,’ ’vision’ or ‘seeing the future.’
In its classical form, prophecy is conveyed by a prophet or a seer. This prophet acts in the name of God. He is a messenger who delivers a specific message from God for an individual or an entire nation. He usually serves as a herald, town crier, announcer, or interpreter who mediates between God and men or between men to God.
When a prophet attempts to evade his mission (such as in the case with the prophets Jonah or Elijah), God forces him to return to prophecy.
God reveals himself to prophets in a dream at night or in a vision during the day. Of all Old Testament prophets, only Moses saw God in direct sight and, therefore, he is considered the greatest prophet:
“And there has not arisen since in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face…”
Bible scholars distinguished between two groups of prophets: ‘Prophets of acts’: Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha. These prophets are mentioned in the Bible’s historical books with a focus on their actions and not their words. The others are the ‘Classical Prophets’, also called the ‘Writing Prophets’ or the ‘Book Prophets’. Their prophecies are told in books that carry their names. They prophesied between the 8th century BC and the 5th century BC, the Return-to-Zion era. Among the great prophets to whom many prophecies are attributed are Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. There are also the twelve minor prophets: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.