The Huldah delegation and Nathan-Melech, the official (2 Kings 22)

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Illustration: Klmntnl Belonging to Nathan-melech

The discovery of the Book of the Law caused great consternation on the part of king Josiah, who sent a delegation of five officials to Huldah the prophetess to “inquire of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:13): Hilkiah, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah. The names of four of the delegation members have been found on four seals and three bullae discovered in Israel:

  • Hilkiah was the high priest who discovered the scroll of the law (22:8). His name appears on a seal and a bulla of his son Azariah, who was also a priest and the grandfather of Ezra (1 Chronicles 6:13-14, 9:11, Ezra 7:1). Hilkiah’s name also appears on a seal of another son named Hanan.
  • Another bulla reads “Ahikam son of Shaphan” as in 2 Kings 22:12. No doubt Ahikam was a scribe like his father, who read the scroll of the law to Josiah (22:10). It was Ahikam who later saved Jeremiah from death at the hands of the priests, prophets and people following the prophet’s temple sermon (Jeremiah 26:24). The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar appointed Ahikam’s son Gedaliah governor of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:22). Fingerprints visible on the edge of the bulla are almost certainly those of Ahikam himself.
  • Shaphan’s name also appears on a bulla of a son named Gemariah. A seal of Shaphan’s father bears the inscription “Azaliah son of Meshullam” (22:3).
  • Another official in Josiah’s court was Nathan-Melech (23:11). A bulla with the inscription “Belonging to Nathan-Melech, servant of the king” is probably that of Nathan-Melech.

 

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