“Hilkiah (the high priest) and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe.” —2 Chronicles 34:22
The prophet Hulda gets a scant 9 lines in the Bible, and in them we learn more about her husband than we do about her.
Nonetheless, she must have been impressive, for when King Josiah needed a prophet to authenticate the Word of God, it was to Hulda that he turned.
Josiah had ordered a renovation of the temple, and during this work Hilkiah had discovered a scroll, “The Book of the Law,” which many scholars are convinced was the Book of Deuteronomy (or a portion of it.)
When the scroll was read to Josiah, he tore his clothes, because of the dire calamities described in it. That is why he sent his people to consult Hulda, who apparently had a finely attuned ear for the Word of God.
Hulda confirmed that the scroll was indeed God’s Word, and that much of the news in it was bad news because of the nation’s idolatry.
As in many biblical stories there is much here we aren’t told. We don’t know Hulda’s age or appearance. What we do know is that a bunch of powerful men in a patriarchal age came to her for guidance about the ways of God. And we do know that Hulda was not afraid to “speak truth to power” as we would say today.
Sprinkled throughout our holy book are verses here and there like these that name the numerous cast of supporting characters in the great multi-generational drama of God’s ways with the world.
Prayer: Holy One, attune our ears to hear your Word, that we too might be found faithful in the supporting roles to which you call us.
(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotional for May 4, 2016. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here.)
(Photo: Andrea Mantegna, Two Figures: The Priest Helqia and the Prophetess Hulda, The Louvre)
I hope that you can help me. I am an English professor at Samford University in Birmingham, AL and have a book under contract with Northwestern University Press that is scheduled for publication this November. It is about America’s first best-selling novelist and is entitled “Susanna Rowson: Sentiental Prophet of Early American Literature.” Each of the five body chapters connect Rowson’s life and works to an Old Testament prophet or figure, including Huldah. In researching images of Huldah on the web, I came across your very interesting essay above. I especially appreciate the information that the Mantegna painting is housed at the Louvre, but I was unable to find a reference to it on the Louvre’s website catalogue, although I may not have searched in the right places, since I have never done “art sleuthing.”
Would you mind telling me in an email how you gained access to the image? Did you have to pay for the reproduction, and, if so, how much?
I would very much appreciate any help that you can give me.
Associate Professor of English
Thanks for the inquiry. I have sent you an e-mail.