[AMAIC: Our view that Huldah was the heroine Judith would incline us to modify a few points in this otherwise excellent piece]
The Bible Account Of This Story Is Found In 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34
Huldah is another little known woman [sic] of the Bible who made an incredible impact on Israel and the history of the Hebrews. She never went to war like Deborah or killed to protect her people like Jael [sic]; she didn’t nurse a sick aging king like Abishag or build cities like Sheerah. She did impart truth to a nation that was spiritually sick and dying because they were worshipping idols and false gods. This is Huldah’s story.
Huldah is only mentioned twice in the Bible and was a wife, possibly a mother, who allowed God to use her as He saw fit. She was married to Shallum, keeper of the wardrobe to King Josiah and she lived in the “college”, a place of education. Since few people knew how to read and write, teachings were oral. Huldah was one of the teachers. This is the only recorded instance of a woman being in a position to educate others and Jewish tradition agrees with this account. Men and women of the time did not mingle or visit in closed quarters, she was probably teacher to the younger boy and girls. Since Huldah was educated, we must conclude that other females were also therefore I include girls in this reference. Another possibility is that she taught the Mishanh (oral law) to elders in a public place. Her rooms (widely accepted as fact) were open to the outside courts so her modesty and reputation were protected.
Being married to Shallum, she would have been a regular visitor to the court and was apparently well known and respected by the king himself. She may have taught some of the courtiers’ children and perhaps even the royal children. She was acknowledged as a prophetess and was surely experienced in speaking to wealthy, powerful people. Her anointing as a prophet would have brought her into the vicinity of the temple priests where her word was respected and obeyed. The prophets were known to interpret what God had imparted to them. If Huldah witnessed an improper act or injustice, she had authority to call it out as such publically. She was herself a powerful, influential and respected woman.
The time in which Huldah lived was about 3,000 before Christ and approximately 300 after the reign of King Solomon. The nation of Israel had again left following God but the young king, Josiah, was a godly man who was interested in the Lord. He had commissioned a total reconstruction of Solomon’s temple. During the digging and rebuilding, a lost scroll was found hidden in a wall. This was the Book of the Law which was given to Moses from God Himself. The high priest took it to the king’s palace and gave it to a scribe (secretary), Shaphan, who read it aloud to Josiah.
The contents were so frightening that the king tore his clothing in grief and repentance. The book of the law told of God’s anger against the nation because the ancestors of the current people had been disobedient and worshiped other gods. Josiah was concerned. He needed to know just what all this meant for the nation and the people who depended upon him to care for them. Was it even authentic or could it be a forgery? An interpreter was needed. So Josiah called his trusted advisors to seek the Lord about the matter. This meant a prophet needed to be consulted. They went to Huldah and she was not impressed at all. She didn’t care they were from the king; she was used to speaking the truth and would not compromise for anyone. To do that would contaminate her integrity and that was not an option.
She told them what God imparted to her. He was going to bring disaster on them and their homeland because they had abandoned their faith and given their love to other false gods. I can see her now, all regal and lovely in her robes, scrolls in hand. She must have been a breathtaking sight. She did not even refer to Josiah as the king, but as “the man who sent you to me.” She was showing them that she spoke for God, not the king who was human and might make a poor decision.
Then interestingly, she called Josiah king. When she was giving the bad news, she spoke of him as just another citizen. But when the report was positive news, she recognized him as God’s chosen leader of Judah. He had been working diligently to clean the land of idols and removed alters used to sacrifice to Baal. His instructions to rebuild the temple were due to his faith and quest for righteousness in the land and in the hearts of his people. He had begun the cleansing when only twelve years old (Josiah had begun to reign at eight). So God recognized his work and vowed to spare Josiah. He would not allow strife and disaster to come while Josiah was living.
The men returned to the palace and gave Huldah’s interpretation to the king. He immediately called everyone in the kingdom to the temple and read the Law to them all “from the least to the greatest.” Then Josiah the King renewed the Covenant with the Lord and had every person pledge themselves to it also.
He finished removing the idols and false gods, temples and alters. The land was clean and the hearts of the people were too. As long as Josiah lived, Judah was faithful to The Lord God Jehovah, as their beloved King David had been. The Passover was celebrated in a purity that had not happened for centuries, since the time of Samuel. Josiah reigned for another thirteen years, and then was killed in battle. During that time he finished the temple project and kept the covenant promise he had made to God, and all the people did also.
And Huldah was responsible in part because she lived a godly life and kept the mandates so God was able to use her when the time was right. She was instrumental in bringing revival to Israel and renewing love for God in the hearts of the people.
Then Huldah faded back into obscurity like most of the other women who changed history. They didn’t demand equal attention or change who they were. They just obeyed God and made themselves available while remaining wives and mothers; sisters and daughters. The common thread that ties these ladies together is their obedience to, and worship of, God in their lives.
As we have seen with other rarely seen women of the Old Testament Bible, one person can make a difference in thousands of lives. God felt it necessary to record the names and actions of Huldah and other women throughout centuries and even millennia. He obviously trusted that they knew Him and His word and law. He knew Huldah was faithful, self confident in her knowledge and also in right standing with her husband and community. And she trusted God also. She was not afraid to give herself over to Him, but was confident in placing her life in His hands. We should not be hesitant either. He has promised in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” With that kind of commitment from the Creator, we can be assured all will work out to our benefit and to His glory. Are we confident, strong and ready to change the world we live in? What is your legacy? What is mine going to be?
Huldah’s legacy of faithfulness and righteousness still lives and is known in Jerusalem. There are the remains of the Huldah Gates on the Temple mound and according to Jewish writings her tomb has been kept intact since her death even unto our present time. I pray we all live in such integrity that our actions are remembered and preserved in hearts the world over-and in the heart of God.
- Nothing in the Bible indicated it was unusual or strange for the men to seek spiritual insight from a woman.
- According to Jewish history, the discovered scroll, a “Sefer Torah”, had been hidden to keep it safe. The evil King Ahab had burnt one during his reign.
- Josiah’s advisor and teacher, Hilkiah, was the great grandfather of Ezra the scribe who has a book in the Bible named after him.
- Another advisor was the great prophet Jeremiah.
- Huldah lived about 3300 years before Christ.
- Josiah was sixteen when he started the spiritual cleansing of his kingdom.