Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who was Chuldah?

Come travel with me into the distant past.  The year is 3303 (458 BCE) and we are in Jerusalem.  King Josiah is in his 18th year on the throne of Judah.  The kingdom of the Ten Tribes hasn’t existed for almost 100 years.  For the past five years the prophet Jeremiah has been prophesying in the streets and marketplaces, speaking to anyone who will listen, making every effort to return the Jews to G-d and Torah.  Two other prophets live then, too: Zefaniah, who prophesies to a (perhaps) more receptive crowd in the synagogues and study halls, and Chuldah, who has a school for women in Jerusalem, where she connects Jewish mothers and daughters with their Father in Heaven.[1]
Series from Israel Post, 1984, Women of the Bible
Chuldah is on the far left

Josiah had come to power as an eight year-old boy, following the murder of his father, Amon, a corrupt and idolatrous king, by his own servants.  King Josiah now sets in motion an intense campaign to cleanse his kingdom of generations of idol-worship and evil. As part of this effort, he calls for the renovation and repair of the Holy Temple, which had been neglected for over 200 years.  The king gathers carpenters, builders and masons, drawing up plans and setting aside funds.
In the course of renovations, an amazing find comes to light – a Torah scroll written in Moses’ own hand.  This scroll had been hidden away by the priests for safekeeping during the reign of King Achaz (Josiah’s grandfather’s grandfather), who had burned every Torah scroll he could find.  Since then, the location of this precious scroll, once secret, had been forgotten.  What could its discovery now, mean?

[1] Pesikta Rabbati, ch. 26


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