“While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Yahweh, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the law of Yahweh given through Moses. Hilkiah said to the secretary Shaphan. ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of the Yahweh.’ Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. Shaphan brought the book to the king. He further reported to the king. ‘All that was committed to your servants they are doing. They have emptied out the money that was found in the house of the Yahweh. They have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workers.’ The secretary Shaphan informed the king. ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.’ Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.”
This is almost word for word from to 2 Kings, chapter 22. When the secretary Shaphan was talking with the priest Hilkiah about the money for repairing the temple, Hilkiah told him that he found this book of the law in the Temple. Then when Shaphan reported back to the king about the money being spent on the Temple, he told the king that he had gotten this book from Hilkiah. He then read the book out loud to the king. This was probably the first edition of Deuteronomy. This book was really a scroll. In fact, this may be the beginning of biblical literature, perhaps even written at this time. Writing itself was not common. Remember that all books or scrolls were hand written, since this proceeds the time of the printing press or computers by about 2,000 to 2,500 years.
“In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the house, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the house of Yahweh his God. They came to the high priest Hilkiah and delivered the money that had been brought into the house of God, which the Levites, the keepers of the threshold, had collected. They had collected money from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from the whole remnant of Israel as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They delivered it to the workers who had the oversight of the house of Yahweh. These workers, who were working in the house of Yahweh, got it for repairing and restoring the house. They gave it to the carpenters and the builders to buy quarried stone, timber for binders, and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had let go to ruin. The people did the work faithfully. Over them were appointed the Levites Jahath and Obadiah of the sons of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to have oversight. Other Levites, all skilful with instruments of music, were over the burden bearers and directed all who did work in every kind of service. Some of the Levites were scribes, officials, and gatekeepers.”
This section is based on 2 Kings, chapter 22. All this happens in the 18th year of King Josiah, which would put him at age 26. I wonder why he took so long to try to repair the Temple. Shaphan, the secretary of King Josiah plays a major role here in 2 Kings. Instead of a military leader or a religious leader, it is this secretary who carries out the orders of King Josiah. There are 7 biblical figures with the name of Hilkiah, but this is the high priest who is responsible for many of the religious reforms under King Josiah. Instead of the money collected only from those who went into the Temple as in 2 Kings, here the money has been collected from all over Israel. This money, in turn, was to be given to the workers at the Temple, the house of Yahweh. Thus the carpenters and builders were to get timber and stones to repair the house of Yahweh. There is no mention about loose accounting as in 2 Kings. Instead there is mention of the various Levite groups in the Temple and their oversight responsibilities.
“Meshelemiah had sons and brothers, able men, who were eighteen. Hosah, of the sons of Merari, had sons. Shimri was the chief. Even though he was not the first-born, his father made him chief. Hilkiah was the second. Tebaliah was the third. Zechariah was the fourth. All the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen.”
Now we find out about other gatekeepers. 18 people were the sons and brothers of Meshelemiah, the Korahite mentioned earlier in this chapter, who had 7 sons. Hosah, whose was a Merarite, had at least 4 sons. All his sons and brothers amounted to 13 men. Besides this chief (1) Shimri, there were 3 other people with that name. (2) Hilkiah was the name of a high priest with Josiah. This is the only time the name (3) Tebaliah appears. There were 27 biblical people with the name of (4) Zechariah with the most famous being the prophet and his book, Zechariah. This is also the name of one of the sons of Meshelemiah.
“On the left hand were their kindred the sons of Merari, Ethan son of Kishi, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi. Their kindred the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.”
To balance the singers, (15) Ethan a Merari Levite was on the left. Thus all 3 clans of the Levites were represented as cantors or singers, during the time of David with Heman from Kohath in the center and Asaph from Gershom on the right. This genealogy goes back 15 generations. The names of (4) Mahli, (3) Mushi, (2) Merari, and (1) Levi are the classical patriarchs of this clan of Merarites. (5) Shemer may be the same as Shimei. (6) Bani appears as the name for 11 different people. The name (7) Amzi only appears once elsewhere. There were 7 people with the name of (8) Hilkiah, the most famous being the priest at the time of Josiah who found the lost book of the Law, in 2 Kings, chapter 22. There were 3 others with the name of (9) Amaziah, with the most famous of these the 8th king of Judah, King Amaziah (796-781 BCE) in 2 Kings, chapter 14. There were 5 other people with the name of (11) Malluch and 11 with the name of (10) Hashabiah. There were 2 other people with the name of (12) Abdi. There was a group called the “Kishaiah” of the Merari branch of the Levites, although this is the only mention of (13) Kishi. This (14) Ethan was not a Gershonite as in the preceding verses. Only the Levites could perform the service at the tabernacle in the temple, the house of Yahweh.
“Eleazar became the father of Phinehas. Phinehas became the father of Abishua. Abishua became the father of Bukki. Bukki became the father of Uzzi. Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah. Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth. Meraioth became the father of Amariah. Amariah became the father of Ahitub. Ahitub became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz. Ahimaaz became the father of Azariah. Azariah became the father of Johanan. Johanan became the father of Azariah, who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem. Azariah was the father of Amariah. Amariah became the father of Ahitub. Ahitub became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Shallum. Shallum became the father of Hilkiah. Hilkiah became the father of Azariah. Azariah became the father of Seraiah. Seraiah became the father of Jehozadak. Jehozadak went into exile when Yahweh sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.”
This is a list of the high priests prior to the Exile, a parallel to the descendents of David in chapter 3 of this book, as they were both hereditary. The king and the priests were the important people. Eleazar was the son of Aaron who had a son named Phinehas. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was promised the hereditary high priesthood in Numbers, chapter 25. There is not much information about Abishua, Bukki, or Zerahiah other than their listings in the genealogies. Uzzi is a name shared with 6 other biblical people. There are a couple of Levite priests with the name of Meraioth. There were 8 different priests named Amariah. This genealogy gets tricky with Ahitub. There were 2 priests with this name. 1 was the son of Phinehas, so that when his grandfather Eli died, he succeeded to the office of high priest, and was himself succeeded by his son Ahijah as in 1 Samuel, chapter 4, who is not mentioned here. The other was the father of Zadok, who was made high priest by Saul after the extermination of the family of Ahimelech in 2 Samuel, chapter 8, who is the one mentioned here. This Zadok was the trusted priest friend of David, who helped to put Solomon on the throne. His son Ahimaaz remained loyal to David in the rebellions both of Absalom and of Adonijah. However, Ahimaaz’ son became the high priest since he died before this father died. Thus, technically the first high priest of Jerusalem was Azariah, because he lived at the time that the Temple was built by Solomon. However, there are 27 biblical people who have the same name as this Azariah. In this list Azariah is both the father and son of Johanan. This list gets goofy because it relists Amariah, Ahitub, and Zadok as sons again. Either people had the same names or this is filler to get down to Hilkiah. In the relisting, Zadok became the father of Shallum, but there are 15 different biblical people with that name. However, he was the father of Hilkiah the high priest at the time of Josiah in the 7th century. Hilkiah became the father of another Azariah, who became the father of Seraiah, but there are 11 people with this name. Finally we get to his son Jehozadak, who got carried away in the Babylonian Captivity, after Seraiah was killed by King Nebuchadnezzar.
“Moreover King Josiah put away the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. He established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah found in the house of Yahweh. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to Yahweh with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses. Nor did any like him arise after him.”
King Josiah did away with all kinds of mediums and wizards. Now the teraphim was like a lucky charm or a small god that appeared in the biblical literature as in Genesis, chapter 31, when Rachel hid a teraphim under her saddle, or 1 Samuel, chapter 19, when David’s wife used it to trick King Saul’s men. Thus it was common enough as were the other various idols. King Josiah in 1 year tried to right the ship of Judah according to the book or scroll that the high priest Hilkiah found in the temple. He wanted to follow the Mosaic Law. This biblical writer says that no king before him or after him was as good as King Josiah. Remember that this includes the early great kings like Saul, David, and Solomon. There even were a few good kings in Judah over the past 300 years. Normally King David was considered the ideal. Here it is King Josiah.
“So the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah, the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the wardrobe. She resided in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. They consulted with her.”
This group of 5 people, Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah, went to consult with the prophetess Huldah. We do not know much about her since she only appears here. She, like Deborah in Judges, chapter 4, was among the few holy leader women who are not married to a king. They seem to have this power on their own. Huldah is the only mentioned female prophet. She lived in Jerusalem with her husband who was a keeper of the wardrobe for the king so that they did not have to go far to meet her.
“When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying. ‘Go! Inquire of Yahweh for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. Great is the wrath of Yahweh that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.’”
After listening to the reading of this book, King Josiah tore his clothes, the sign of anguish, being upset, or mourning. He then called in a group of people to find out more about this book from Yahweh. This group included the priest Hilkiah, the king’s secretary Shaphan, his son Ahikam, who will later be governor of Judea and a friend of Jeremiah the prophet, as well as Achbor and Asaiah. There were other biblical people with these last 2 names, but these 2 men seem to be the friends or servants of King Josiah. The king felt that the wrath of Yahweh was upon them because they and their ancestors had not followed what was written in this book.
“The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary. ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of Yahweh.’ When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king. He reported to the king. ‘Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house. They have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of Yahweh.’ Shaphan the secretary informed the king. ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.’ Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.”
When Shaphan was talking with the priest Hilkiah about the money for repairing the temple, Hilkiah told him that he found this book of the law in the temple. Then when Shaphan reported back to the king about the money being spent on the temple, he told the king that he had gotten this book from Hilkiah. He then read the book to the king, which was probably the first edition of Deuteronomy. This book was really a scroll. In fact, this may be the beginning of biblical literature, perhaps even written at this time. Writing itself was not common. Remember that all books or scrolls were hand written, since this proceeds the time of the printing press or computers by about 2,000 to 2,500 years.
“In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of Yahweh, saying. ‘Go up to the high priest Hilkiah. Have him count the entire sum of the money that has been brought into the house of Yahweh, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. Let it be given into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of Yahweh. Let them give it to the workers who are at the house of Yahweh, repairing the house, that is, to the carpenters, to the builders, and to the masons. Let them use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.’”
All this happens in the 18th year of King Josiah, which would put him at age 25. Shaphan, the secretary of King Josiah will play a major role here. Instead of a military leader or a religious leader, it is this secretary who carries out the orders of King Josiah. There are 7 biblical figures with the name of Hilkiah, but this is the high priest who is responsible for many of the religious reforms under King Josiah. He was to count the money that had been collected from the people as they entered the temple. This money, in turn, was to be given to the workers at the temple, the house of Yahweh. Thus the carpenters and builders were to get timber and stones to repair the house of Yahweh with no questions asked about the money because there was a presumed honesty.