2 Kings 22

Rediscovering the Law

The Book of the Law

Hilkiah the priest told Shaphan, “I have found the book of the law in the house of Yahweh” (2 Kings 22:8).

The “book” mentioned here was not a codex with pages, but a scroll; the codex was not invented until about the 1st century AD. The only question would be whether the scroll was made of papyrus or leather (parchment). Although papyrus was cheaper and more easily available and was almost always the material used for letters and smaller documents (cf. Jer 36:23), fine leather may have been used for a more valuable and permanent scroll like the Torah. A number of the earliest known examples of biblical texts, recovered from the caves along the Dead Sea, are written on leather.


So they went to Huldah the prophetess, wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah (2 Kings 22:14).

Near the summit of the Mount of Olives is a doorway leading to the traditional tomb of the prophetess Huldah. Unfortunately, the tradition is likely neither ancient nor authentic. In fact, this same tomb is venerated by Christians as the tomb of St. Pelagia and by Muslims as the tomb of Sit’ Raba’a al-Aduwiyyeh. But this appears to be the same site that Jewish pilgrims visited as Huldah’s tomb in the Middle Ages. In any case, the memory of this prophetess who served as consultant for Judah’s greatest king has not been forgotten in Jerusalem today.

Jerusalem's Second District

Now Huldah lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District (2 Kings 22:14).

The Second District (Heb. mishneh) probably refers to the expansion of the city on the Western Hill. This expansion happened in the days of Hezekiah as a result of a large influx of refugees from the fallen state of Israel to the north. This model of Jerusalem, on display at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, depicts the city around the time of Hezekiah and Manasseh. Huldah likely lived on the hill on the left side of the photo.

Pagan Sacrifice

Because they have forsaken me and have burned incense to other gods (2 Kings 22:17).

This glazed brick depicts an Egyptian sacrificial scene where the priest (right) offers various sacrifices to two gods (left). It represents a scene of pagan sacrifice that would have been viewed as illegitimate by any true priest of the Lord. The priest in this scene is holding an incense burner in his left hand, from which smoke rises. With his right hand, he pours a libation onto the altar before him. This artifact was photographed at the Vatican Museums.

Desolation at Shiloh

That they should become a desolation and a curse (2 Kings 22:19).

The word “desolation” refers to a horrific or atrocious event that comes as a result of judgment. Not long after the time of Josiah, Jeremiah would prophesy that God would bring on Jerusalem and the temple the same kind of judgment He had brought on Shiloh (Jer 7:14; cf. Ps 78:60). The event He refers to appears to be the destruction of Shiloh shortly after the ark was taken into battle by the sons of Eli (1 Sam 4). The piles of stone in this photo are remains from the city of Shiloh. A few foundations and stub walls can be seen on the far right.

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