Huldah was a prophetess mentioned briefly in , and . After the discovery of a book of the Law during renovations at Solomon's Temple, on the order of King Josiah, Hilkiah together with Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah approach her to get the Lord's opinion.
Huldah and Deborah were the principal professed prophetesses in the Nevi'im (Prophets) portion of the Hebrew Bible, although other women were referred to as prophetesses. "Huldah" means "weasel," and "Deborah" means "bee" or "wasp."
Huldah in the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible recounts the consulting of Huldah as follows:
- And the King commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Miciah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asiah the King's servant, saying,
- Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
- So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe - now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the second quarter - and they spoke with her.
- And she said unto them: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell ye the man that sent you unto me:
- Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will bring evil upon this place and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read. ( )
Huldah, after authenticating the book and prophesying a future of destruction for failure to follow it, ends by reassuring King Josiah that because of his piety, God has heard his prayer and "thou shalt be gathered unto thy grave in peace, neither shall thy eyes see all the evil which I shall bring upon this place." ( ).
Huldah appears in the Hebrew Bible only in nine verses, , . This short narrative is sufficient to make clear that Huldah was regarded as a prophetess accustomed to speaking the word of God directly to high priests and royal officials, to whom high officials came in supplication, who told kings and nations of their fates, who had the authority to determine what was and was not the genuine Law, and who spoke in a manner of stern command when acting as a prophetess. Nonetheless the Bible does not offer the sort of background information it typically does with other pivotal prophets. Indeed, we are left knowing more about her husband's background than we know of hers, and the little information we know of her personally is largely in relation to her husband.
Huldah in rabbinic literature
According to Rabbinic interpretation, Huldah said to the messengers of King Josiah, "Tell the man that sent you to me," etc. (), indicating by her unceremonious language that for her Josiah was like any other man. The king addressed her, and not Jeremiah, because he thought that women are more easily stirred to pity than men, and that therefore the prophetess would be more likely than Jeremiah to intercede with God in his behalf (Meg. 14a, b; comp. Seder 'Olam R. xxi.). Huldah was a relative of Jeremiah, both being descendants of Rahab by her marriage with Joshua (Sifre, Num. 78; Meg. 14a, b). While Jeremiah admonished and preached repentance to the men, she did the same to the women (Pesiḳ. R. 26 [ed. Friedmann, p. 129]). Huldah was not only a prophetess, but taught publicly in the school (Targ. to ), according to some teaching especially the oral doctrine. It is doubtful whether "the Gate of Huldah" in the Second Temple (Mid. i. 3) has any connection with the prophetess Huldah; it may have meant "Cat's Gate"; some scholars, however, associate the gate with Huldah's schoolhouse (Rashi to Kings l.c.).E. C. L. G.
The book that Huldah authenticated
Rabbinic sources such as Rashi explain that it was the original Torah written by Moses that was hidden from Ahaz. Modern critical scholars suggest that the book of the law was most likely Deuteronomy.
"Huldah", The Jewish Encyclopedia (Article in 1903 public domain Jewish Encyclopedia).