Huldah the prophetess is a woman in the Bible about whom we know very little. The Bible says that Huldah was "the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe" and that she "lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter" (2 Chronicles 34:22). Most importantly, she was a prophetess. Huldah appears as a side character in the larger story of King Josiah's reign and Judah's unfaithfulness to God, yet her small role had a great impact. Because she was known as someone faithful to speak the words the Lord gave her, she was able to be a part of events that changed her nation.
Huldah's life sits in a time in Judah's history when the nation was suffering under kings who rebelled against God—Manasseh (Josiah's grandfather) and Amon (Josiah's father). These kings led the people to worship idols in the temple of the Lord, sacrifice their children, and practice sorcery and witchcraft. Second Kings 21:9 says that "Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel." Though Manasseh repented later in his reign, the evil continued under Amon. Amon only ruled for two years before his servants conspired against and assassinated him. The people struck down the conspirators and placed Amon's son, Josiah, on the throne. But they were still far from God.
In Moses' days the Book of the Law lay beside the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:24–27). King David had faithfully followed the Law and passed it along to his son Solomon, who built the temple. But by the time of the reign of King Josiah, not only had the Law been neglected, it appears the temple priests didn't even know where the Book of the Law was (2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:14–15).
King Josiah ascended to the throne at the age of eight. Second Chronicles 34:3 tells us that "in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father." By the twelfth year of his reign, Josiah had begun tearing down the idols throughout the land (2 Chronicles 34:1–7). In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah arranged for the repair of the temple. He sent men to Hilkiah, the high priest, to collect the money that had been given to the temple and give it to the workmen who would make the repairs. While bringing out the money, Hilkiah discovered "the Book of the Law of the LORD given through Moses" (2 Chronicles 34:14). Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who was apparently the leader of the men sent by Josiah. Shaphan brought the book to Josiah and read it to him. King Josiah tore his clothes when he saw just how far Judah had fallen from the Lord. Josiah sent his men to seek a word from God. They went to Huldah the prophetess.
When Josiah's men arrived at Huldah's house, she sought the Lord and received a word for King Josiah. She said to Josiah's men, "Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched. But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grace in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants" (2 Chronicles 34:24–28; cf. 2 Kings 22:15–20). God's judgment would come to Judah, but He would delay and not bring it about in the days of Josiah.
The men conveyed the message Huldah the prophetess had spoken to the king. Josiah gathered the people of Judah and read the Book of the Law to them (2 Chronicles 34:29–30). He then "made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:31), and he had the people join in the covenant (2 Chronicles 34:32). Josiah continued to serve God faithfully until he was killed in battle. Josiah reigned for thirty-one years (2 Kings 22:1–2).
Huldah the prophetess stayed faithful to the Lord in a very dark time in history. The people were stuck in sin, following their own desires, but Huldah chose to serve the Lord and not herself. At a time when Judah was entrenched in idolatry, Huldah's faithfulness to the Lord allowed her to share God's words of judgment and of comfort with King Josiah. She was part of God's work in the life of the king and the lives of the people.
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