HULDAH


HULDAH (Heb. חֻלְדָּה; "weasel"), wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the "wardrobe keeper" of the king; one of the five women in the Bible referred to as nevi'ah, "female prophet") and the only woman prophet in the book of Kings (II Kings 22:14–20). She was consulted by *Josiah when he sent to "inquire of the Lord" concerning the Book of the Law discovered during the restoration of the Temple. She prophesied God's ultimate judgment upon the nation. However, this judgment was to be postponed until after Josiah's peaceful death because of the king's acts of repentance. Inasmuch as Josiah's death was not peaceful hers may be a genuine predictive prophecy. Most of her prophecy is molded by the authors of the Book of Kings in Deuteronomistic style. It is of interest that women prophets are well-attested in roughly contemporary Neo-Assyrian sources.

[Tikva S. Frymer /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]

In the Aggadah

She was one of the seven prophetesses (by rabbinic count) mentioned by name in the Bible. After Josiah found the copy of the Torah in the Temple, he consulted Huldah rather than Jeremiah, because he felt that a woman would be more compassionate and more likely to intercede with God on his behalf (Meg. 14b). Since Jeremiah was a kinsman of the prophetess, both being descended from Joshua and Rahab, the king felt no apprehension that the prophet would resent his preference for Huldah (ibid.). While Jeremiah admonished and preached repentance to the men she did likewise to the women (PR 26:129). In addition to being a prophetess, Huldah also conducted an academy in Jerusalem (Targ., II Kings 22:14). The "Gate of Huldah" in the Temple (Mid. 1:3) was formerly the gate leading to Huldah's schoolhouse (Rashi, II Kings 22:14). Huldah's husband Shallum, the son of Tikvah, was a man of noble descent and compassionate. Daily he would go beyond the city limits carrying a pitcher of water from which he gave every traveler a drink, and it was as a reward for his good deeds that his wife became a prophetess. Huldah's unattractive name which means "weasel" is ascribed to her arrogance when she referred to Josiah as "the man" (II Kings 22:15) and not as king.

[Aaron Rothkoff]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Ginzberg, Legends, index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (1988), 295; S. Parpola, Assyrian Prophecies (State Archives of Assyria vol. ix; 1997), xiviii-lii.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.