Under the midnight moon, Chilkiyah the High Priest discovered some sort of bundle hidden under the Temple courtyard. He unwrapped it to find a scroll written in Moses’ hand. Opening the scroll, he saw that it was rolled to the Verses of Rebuke: “Cursed is he who does not uphold the words of this Torah to do them” (Deuteronomy 27:26). Was this a message from G-d?
Chilkiyah gave the rescued scroll to Shafan the Scribe, who brought it to the king. Shafan read the verses to the king. “G-d will lead you and the king you have chosen to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 28:36).
Hearing these frightening words, King Josiah tore his clothes in mourning and urged Chilkiyah and a number of courtiers to “inquire of G-d on my behalf and on behalf of the people, and all of Judah…” The king feared the passage was a message of G-dly displeasure over the idolatry and evil of the preceding generations.
The king’s messengers approached Chuldah the Prophetess, wife of Shalum the Keeper of the King's Wardrobe. Chuldah relayed G-d’s word to them, “Tell the man who sent you, I will bring disaster on this place and its inhabitants, as is written in this scroll which the king of Judah has read." With this foreknowledge, King Josiah hid many of the Temple’s sacred vessels, among them the Holy Ark, in a secret underground chamber constructed centuries before by King Solomon.
Who was Chuldah, and why did the king seek her prophecy instead of Jeremiah’s? Was her grim foretelling what Josiah had expected?