Faith, Religion & Scripture, Notes & Essays by David Rodeback

Short Take: Huldah the Prophetess

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Old Testament and related scripture in 2014. Here’s this month’s “short take.”

King Josiah ruled Judah in Jeremiah’s and Zephaniah’s time. Tradition has Jeremiah teaching in the streets, Zephaniah teaching in the synagogues, and Huldah the prophetess preaching to women gathered to hear her outside the temple wall.

Josiah’s father and grandfather had led the people into idolatry, but Josiah’s desires were righteous. He began to turn his people away from idols and to repair and restore the temple.

During the temple renovation, Hilkiah, the high priest, found a scroll that had been hidden for safekeeping and long since forgotten. It contained the Law, the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Tradition dates it to Moses’ time and says it was open to a passage in Deuteronomy which prophesied destruction if the people disobeyed the Law. (See Deuteronomy 28:15-68.)

Knowing his people’s idolatry and shaken by the prophecy, Josiah sent Hilkiah and others to Huldah for her counsel.

She responded, “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil on this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book . . . because they have forsaken me” (2 Chronicles 34:24-25; 2 Kings 22:16-17).

However, she had happier words for Josiah himself: because of his righteousness and humility, this destruction would not be in his lifetime.

Jewish history says Josiah summoned his people to the temple, stood on a platform, and read to them from the Law, and the people renewed their covenant to serve the Lord.

There is no further Old Testament reference to Huldah the prophetess. Josiah reigned righteously for 13 more years, until 609 BC. The prophesied destruction came 22 years later, after new wickedness — without repentance.