Huldah, An Old Testament Prophet
Huldah's story is found in the Bible in the following two Old Testament passages:
2 Kings 22:13-20Common English Bible (CEB)
13 “Go and ask the Lord on my behalf, and on behalf of the people, and on behalf of all Judah concerning the contents of this scroll that has been found. The Lord must be furious with us because our ancestors failed to obey the words of this scroll and do everything written in it about us.”
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah. She was married to Shallum, Tikvah’s son and Harhas’ grandson, who was in charge of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the second district. When they spoke to her, 15 she replied, “This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says: Tell this to the man who sent you to me: 16 This is what the Lord says: I am about to bring disaster on this place and its citizens—all the words in the scroll that Judah’s king has read! 17 My anger burns against this place, never to be quenched, because they’ve deserted me and have burned incense to other gods, angering me by everything they have done.[a]
18 But also say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to question the Lord: This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says about the message you’ve just heard: 19 Because your heart was broken and you submitted before the Lord when you heard what I said about this place and its citizens—that they will become a horror and a curse—and because you ripped your clothes and cried before me, I have listened to you, declares the Lord. 20 That’s why I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will go to your grave in peace. You won’t experience the disaster I am about to bring on this place.”
…they reported Huldah’s words to the king…
A similar rendition of this event is recorded in 2 Chronicles 34:22-28.
Here’s the summary version:
After a run of wicked rulers, Josiah became king of Judah as a little boy of eight years old. God, at great cost, had preserved Josiah’s life, and he became a righteous king as he grew up. All around him were the political disarray, spiritual and religious idolatry, moral decay, and corruption his godless forbears had brought about. God had been forgotten, and the temple shuttered and moldering for decades.
By the time he was 26, Josiah realized that to reform Judah, he had to bring God back into the equation, beginning with a complete renovation of God’s holy house. As they began their cleaning and repairing of the temple, the high priest made an astonishing discovery—the long-forgotten Book of the Law which had been collecting dust within the abandoned rooms of the sanctuary. In it contained all the covenant blessings of obedience, and—more importantly, for them—all the covenant curses attendant with disobedience to God’s Law.
There was no hesitation about who to go to. Of all Judah’s prophets, even Josiah’s best friend Jeremiah would not suffice. It had to be Huldah they enquired of the Lord from.
Huldah was a woman prophet during the reign of King Josiah, from 640-609 B.C. (so about 2,600 years ago). She was married to Shallum, Keeper of the Wardrobe, and together they lived in Jerusalem, the Second District. Rabbinic literature maintains she taught publicly in her own academy and the Gate of Huldah, on the western wall of the second temple, was named in honor of her establishment (pictured above).
Her most famous contemporary was the prophet Jeremiah, yet it was to her that King Josiah, along with the High Priest Hilkiah, the Chief Scribe Shaphan, and three other high ranking attendants, brought in person their urgent entreaty.
They were not disappointed, for Huldah knew without question what the Lord would have them do. She spoke with confidence and authority, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says.” She spoke with equal authority even to the king, whom she referred to as “the man who sent you to me.”
1. Josiah had been right: God was going to bring disaster to the nation, “according to everything written in the book”
This prophecy came true in 2 Chronicles 35:20-27
2. Because Josiah had shown humility and responsiveness to God, he would be “buried in peace.” In other words, he would not live to see the devastation of God’s holy wrath burn against the people.
This prophecy came true in 2 Kings 23:29-30. All the kings who came after Josiah were evil, and through their rule came all the disasters God had said would come.
Pretty heady stuff!! The fate of the nation hung on her words. Whatever she heard from the Lord and spoke to them would be their command to obey. If ever there was a woman who taught and had authority over men, it was the prophet Huldah.