27 Jun 2006

Huldah Who? The Forgotten Ministry of a Lady Prophet

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Contemporary Ethics, Exegesis, Hebrew Bible, Hermeneutics, Kingdom, Ministry, Preaching, Women

Sorry for the delay in my blog but I have been out of town for the last week. I appreciate those who came by during that time. I offer here something that is longer than a “traditional” blog, my study of the female prophet Huldah. This a presentation I did at the Abilene Christian University Lectures.

Where to Begin?

I have long been fascinated by the enigmatic figure of Huldah. I discovered Huldah in 1988 in an “OT” Survey class reading through the Bible. We never actually discussed her and I am not sure we could have done so. But I never forgot her. She has been a poltergeist floating in my mind for nearly 20 years!

Here was this woman placing a stamp of authenticity on Scripture, interpreting it and exercising authority over men . . . all at the same time! I did not know what to do with her. Since then I have been involved in many discussions regarding women in Scripture. Invariably I am told a woman never exercised authority over men with God’s approval because Paul forbade it. I then ask, “What about Huldah?” The response is almost (without exception) “Huldah Who?

Here are two representative samples (out of many that could have been picked) of some attitudes towards women’s role among conservative Christians. I mention these not to make fun, nor to demean, but simply to illustrate my point:

“Prophets were not preachers. They did not preach; they did not do the work of a pastor nor the work of an evangelist, nor of a Bible teacher. To prophesy means to foretell the future. A prophecy is a revelation of the future. A prophet is a man who receives a divine revelation. A prophetess is a woman who receives a divine revelation concerning the future.

Prophetesses never preached in the Bible. They received brief divine revelation to give to individuals, but were never sent to preach, to address public assemblies as expounders of the Word, nor to do the work of a pastor or evangelist.”

John R. Rice, Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers
(Sword of the Lord Publications, 1941), 48-49

“Lindy Adams’ article dealing with the role of women reveals an area of debate that fails to consider the heart of the problem. We are not saying a great deal about the role of women in the secular realm. This is the heart of the issue. This the area in which all the problems of leadership originate. But the first question we must answer is, “Does the Bible authorize women to be in positions of authority over men in any area of life?” It is my belief and one in which I would debate, that women have no biblical authority to be over men in any area of life. Her subjection role was given at creation and has never been changed.”

Tony Demonbreun, “Letter to the Editor,”
Christian Chronicle 61 (December 2004), 31

But there is another perspective. It comes from a 9 year old little girl. I did not ask for this, but Rachael gave it to me. She knew I was studying for this presentation [for ACU] and got out her Bible. She laid out on the floor next to me and asked where she could read about Huldah. She went off and made a ‘report’ (we do this often for our home schooling) on Huldah and gave it to me on Friday night . . . If you do not mind I would like to share it with you. Please bear in mind this is written by a 9 year old girl.

The Prophetess Huldah by Rachael Valentine a Nine Year Old

The King of Jerusalem sent the priest Hilkiah over to Huldah to speak to her she said to him a message from the Lord, to be sent to the King. The Lord God is ruler over Jerusalem. The people will be under a curse. The fire of my anger won’t be put out. I am doing this because for so long have you worshipped the Baals. You will be with your ancestors. You won’t see what I am going to do to this place.

God is having a little trouble with people [sic]. He is troubled with the people’s disobedience to the Covenant. The Covenant was a promise to only to worship God. But as I said, they had been burning insence [sic] to the Baals, breaking the Covenant. Obviously, Huldah is warning them, giving them a chance to repent. And repent they do. The King of Jerusalem gathered a meeting of all the people. They burned offerings to the Lord. The King sent away the priests who served other Baals. The people are trying to get out of God’s anger.

My daughter, Rachael, told me what to say. If any of you would like to have some encouragement let us know while we stand and sing.”

The open faith of a child . . . Sounds quite a bit different than what we saw a moment ago from some older men. I laughed until my stomach hurt at that last line, but I was so moved by it I asked her if I could share it with you.

What is a Biblical Prophet?

You will recall that Rice stated that a prophet simply predicts the future, that a prophet never acts the part of an evangelist, nor as a Bible teacher. (One wonders if he ever heard of Jonah? Or Moses? Surely these prophets were evangelists and bible teachers) Others, like LaGard Smith (and I am not picking on him), take away from the authority of the prophetic ministry by saying prophets were only ad hoc agents and the “real stuff” of God was located in the priesthood. I have serious problems with characterization.

One way to neuter female prophets in the Hebrew Bible is to down grade the prophets themselves. Those opposed to women in leadership do this regularly. The “real” leadership in Israel was the priesthood it is claimed. But this simply does not match the biblical record at all.

Prophets were the highest of all authority in Israel. Moses himself is the standard by which all prophets are measured, including the prophet Jesus. Prophets (Moses and Miriam are prophets – Aaron the priest is never identified in Scripture as a prophet) are around from the beginning of Israel. In the biblical record, prophets precede both priesthood and king.
The prophet’s authority, in the biblical record, is universally recognized.

The prophet, in Israel, has authority to make kings. Samuel identifies Saul and David. Ahijah identifies Jeroboam. Etc, Etc. The prophet has the authority to declare when the king was done, to make him no longer king. Again think Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, etc.

Perhaps the most stunning examples of prophetic authority is Nathan and Elijah. That Nathan could enter into David’s presence, accuse him of a crime, expose his crime, and pronounce judgement upon him in the presence of those surrounding David (his personal body guards as the very least) is stunning testimony of the prophet’s recognized authority over the king. Had Nathan attempted such in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon he would have been relieved of his life immediately.

The gift of prophecy in Israel was the prior condition for leadership in Israel. God places Moses’s prophetic spirit upon the 70 elders (Num 11). The Spirit falls on Saul (1 Sam 10).  The prophets, all of them, were endowed with authority that is never contested in Scripture by anyone. 

Can we come to a biblical definition of what a prophet is?

1) In Exodus 7.1 Yahweh says “See I make you as God to Pharaoh and Aaron your prophet.”

2) Amos 7.16 Amaziah says to Amos,

Do not prophesy against Israel,
and do not preach against the house of Israel

The synonymous parallelism here makes it clear that “to prophesy” and to “preach” are the same thing.

3) Paul says in 1 Cor 14.3-4 that “those who prophesy speak to other people For their up building and encouragement and consolation. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”

From just these very select passages it is clear that a prophet speaks a word from God to instruct his people. It will also be noted that Paul says “anyone” he does not say “men who speak,” women are prophets according to Paul.  Some times a prediction is involved, but more often it is not. What is given is the word of God. The prophet preaches the word of God to build up, to encourage and to console . . . and to challenge.

Rachael’s Huldah Sermon

Female Prophets in Scripture

For those who know who she is, Huldah has been either an irritant or an inspiration. But she need not be the former for there are other women with the honor of “prophet”

Miriam (Exodus 15.20; cf. Micah 6.4)

Deborah (Judges 4-5)

The False Prophet Noadiah (Nehemiah 6.14 . . . She is false for not telling the truth, not because she is a woman)

Wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8.3)

Huldah (2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34)

False Female Prophets of Ezekiel (13.17-23, cf. vv. 1-16 for false male prophets)

Anna (Luke 2.36-38)

Female Prophets of Pentecost (Acts 2.17-18)

Philips Four Daughters (Acts 21. 8-9)

Corinthian Female Prophets (1 Corinthians 11.4-5)

The Bible of the early Church also contained wonderful stories of other great women of God like Susanna, Judith and Greek/Old Latin Esther . . . Wonderful narratives of women in the service of God. In Tobit, Sarah (wonderful prayer of hers) and Anna are brought to life. We should avail ourselves to these tales of faith and courage by women of God.

Setting of the Huldah Narrative

Huldah is extremely important to the history known as Joshua-Samuel-Kings and also Chronicles. Most of the names we think of when we hear the word “prophet” are not even mentioned by either of these histories. Jonah and Isaiah (“writing prophets”) are mentioned in Kings. Jeremiah is not, to my knowledge mentioned at all. In Chronicles, Isaiah is mentioned as is Jeremiah mentioned briefly as the author of a lament over Josiah (2 C 35.25) and in 2 C 36. 12, 21. He is never mentioned in connection with Josiah’s reform . . . But Huldah is given considerable space (comparatively) by both Kings and Chronicles.

As we shall see the Huldah narrative is central not only to the Josiah episode but to the entire structure of Chronicles (where I will spend most of my time). Here is a structural outline that highlights what I mean:

A. Formulaic Introduction (34.1-2)
B. Cultic Purification of Judah & Jerusalem (34.3-5)
C. Cultic Purification of the North (34.6-7)
D. Discovery of the Book (34.8-18)
E. Prophecy of Huldah (34.19-32)
D’ Implementation of the Book (34.29-32)
C’ Cultic Purification of the North (34.33)
B’ Celebration of the Passover (35.1-19)
A’ Extended Formulaic Conclusion (35.20-36.1)

This structure, known as a chiasm (where the structure of the work forms a mirror), places Hudah’s work as the theological and structural center of the Josiah narrative. It stresses the authority of the prophetic word and scripture. The king and the people stand under the prophetic word.

Josiah’s Question (read 34. 14-21)

In response to the discovery of the “book of the Law,” Josiah is alarmed. But he is not foolhardy. He needs to know if this work is authentic . . . If it is “true.” What Josiah does next fits well with what we know from Assyrian parallels of Esarhaddon and Nabonidus. When the king receives an oracle or an omen he would “double-check” it with another “god.” Josiah has just received bad news (an omen!) and wants to know if it is really the word of the Lord. So he “double-checks” so to speak with the Prophet Huldah.

So Josiah sends five men to “inquire of Yahweh.” Not just any men mind you, but some of the, if not the, most important men in the nation. It might pay to reflect on who these men are for just a moment:

1) Hilkiah the High Priest. The highest spiritual leader in the country.

2) Ahikam son of Shaphan. The Shaphan family is important in Judah. Ahikam is father of Gedaliah who becomes governor (2 Kgs 25.22)

3) Abdon (nothing known of him)

4) Shaphan the Secretary. He is basically the secretary of state or chief of staff for the king.

5) Asiah the king’s attendant.

These men are important in ancient Judah both theologically and politically. We should not miss this fact.

Josiah’s instruction to these five men is “inquire” or literally “seek the Lord.” “Seek” is a major theme in Chronicles. God seeks seekers in Chronicles. Josiah does not “seek” for himself alone but for the entire people of God (v. 21). The question is a question about authenticity and interpretation:seek/inquire . . . ABOUT what is written in this book.” Is it true? Will we die? Is there no hope? These are significant questions, in Josiah’s day and our own.

Enter Huldah Who? (34.22-28)

When Josiah was in the midst of a great spiritual and moral crises, Huldah is the single person to whom he turned. Josiah sent these men to Huldah. The King wanted answers and these five very important men went directly and naturally, apparently, to Huldah!

Given our history, and disposition, one is disposed to ask why Huldah?” The question is even more important when we realize that there were male prophets active at this time. Most “famously” would be Jeremiah. But Zephaniah, Nahum are also active prophets at this time and Habakkuk would be prophesying by no later than 612. Another male prophet is mentioned in the narrative itself, a “Jeduthan” who is called the “king’s seer” (35.15) So why Huldah? One scholar opines, “It is clear that Huldah was a major cult official, and her reputation in her own time probably was greater than Jeremiah” (John Otwell, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the OT, p. 158). I think in light of Huldah’s place in the narrative of both Kings and Chronicles and the relative silence regarding Jeremiah and other prophets that Otwell is correct in his opinion.

After the longest “introduction” given to a prophet in Chronicles (Hicks, p. 296) we hear the word of God flow from the lips of a female prophet. (READ 34.23-28).

Huldah “authorizes” the Book. She places her stamp of approval on the content as truly from the Lord. For the first time in history (that is recorded) we read of a writing being declared to be scripture . . . And a woman did it! As another has written,

“The authority to pass judgment on this initial entry into the canon was given to a woman. At the beginning of the Bible we find Huldah; in her we discover the first scripture authority. . . How could we have lost sight of her all these years” (Swidler, p. 1783)

Huldah’s authority is unquestioned by the king or his men. I have to conclude that she likewise had the authority to declare the “book” to be a fraud. If she would have declared it to be a hoax, I do believe that Josiah would have followed her lead in the matter. But her authority is what gave the book credibility and power. But she did more than authenticate the book.

Josiah had placed the burden of the guilt of Judah in the past (v.21, “because of our fathers”), Huldah places the burden in the present (v.25, ‘they have forsaken me”). Please note that Huldah did not only place her stamp of approval on the book brought by the High Priest and his entourage. She became its interpreter. She set its announcement of doom in Judah’s contemporary condition. In fact I believe there are three implicit claims made by Huldah . . . And endorsed by the inspired authors of Kings and Chronicles. These claims are in “authorization movements”:

1) Huldah began as an authoritative person, one who made a claim, recognized by the king, the high priest and the secretary of state as a legitimate claim, to speak for the Lord God of Israel.

2) Regarding the text she claimed the authority to declare it worthy of obedience and representative of the will of God in the present day (of Judah)

3) She judged the validity of the text vis-à-vis history by interpreting it in light of the present condition.

These are no small claims but these are in fact what the Chronicler describes Josiah and the People of God giving her . . . And he does himself.

By way of just passing notice does not Esther do the same in Esther 9.29, 32?

Huldah the Female Prophet of God did the following things: she declared this book to be scripture, she interpreted it and applied it for and to both men and the nation of Israel as a whole.

To Summarize This Section 

Huldah’s authority is “preexistent” and recognized prior to the events of 2 Kgs 22/2 Chr 34. When a book was discovered, it was read to Josiah. The High Priest had no more idea what it was than Josiah. Josiah commanded that the Lord be inquired/sought. A congregation of five men, including the High Priest, immediately went to Huldah. They did not go to Jeremiah. They did not go to Nahum, Zephaniah or Jeduthan but to Huldah. There is only one real explanation for this, her authority and reputation was unquestioned.

Huldah is sought in a similar fashion as Isaiah was by Hezekiah during the Assyrian onslaught (Isa 37.1-7). Other examples can be cited.

Huldah had the recognized authority to pronounce a piece of writing to be what we call Scripture! That is she had the authority to say the book discovered was in fact God’s word. This also means that Huldah had the authority to declare it false. Had Huldah said, “the writing is fake, it has been smuggled into the temple by Babylonian operatives to frighten the king.” She would have been believed.

This is a critical point here beloved. The book did NOT authenticate – authorizes – itself. It was declared authentic – authorized – BY A WOMAN!

The first time in recorded history that a piece of writing was declared to be “the Bible,” it was so declared by the authority of a female prophet. Now there was “scripture” before this time but the fact remains that the first time something is declared to be Scripture it was by the Prophet Huldah.
Huldah’s authority was recognized OVER the book. The king submitted to her declaration. The High Priest submitted to her declaration. The entire nation of Israel submitted to her declaration. The authors of Kings and Chronicles do not question her authority.


Huldah’s authority did not stop at declaring the writing to be the word of Yahweh. Her authority extended to the interpretation of that word. Josiah had placed the blame for sin in the past (our fathers/ancestors, 2C 34.21). But Huldah places it squarely on the present (v.25). Then she postpones the coming wrath of Yahweh to a future date because Josiah “humbled” himself (v.27). This is interpretation if there ever was. She has the authority to interpret the text in light of present events (the king humbling himself).

Huldah in Light of Chronicles’ Theology

The second half of Huldah’s oracle gives a positive word to Josiah. Because he repented and “humbled” himself before Yahweh he would not see these evil days. The term humble oneself is a key theme (and functions with the “seek” theme) in the larger framework of the book. It appears in a number of significant passages which are not found in the parallel accounts in Kings.

A key to the Chronicler’s use of the term “humble oneself” is 2 C 7.14. After Solomon prays at the temple dedication, the Lord promises that the peoples prayers will be heard if they “humble themselves”. In the Chronicler’s account, Rehoboam is spared when he “humbles himself” (2 C 20). Hezekiah humbles himself before the Lord in 2 C 32.36. Manasseh is spared and restored to the throne in 2 C 33.12 and 19 because he “humbled himself” before Yahweh. Josiah is spared destruction in his day because he humbled himself before God. This is the only one of these passages which is paralleled in Kings. What is important for our purposes is that the Hebrew root is used only once in 2 Kgs 22.19 but the Chronicler uses it twice in 2 C 34.27 in order to emphasize it.

The last occurrence of the term “humble oneself” in the book of Chronicles is also significant and forms a climax to the mercy theme God grants to those who are humble before him. This is found in 2 C 36.12 in the introduction to Zedekiah. He did “evil” in the sight of God and the Chronicler adds “he did not humble himself” before the word of the Lord.

This theme expressed by the word “humble oneself” (      ) runs through out the Chroniclers account of the kingdom from Solomon’s prayer to the fall of Jerusalem when Zedekiah refuses to humble himself. The use of “humble himself” twice in the prophecy of Huldah makes her articulate one of the most important concerns of the Chronicler himself. Far from being a peripheral character she expresses the heart of the theology of Chronicles.

This theological analysis lends support to our previous structural analysis suggesting that Huldah is not a “who” but a very important person in the history of redemption.

Huldah’s Legacy

What is Huldah’s legacy? Does she have one? Yes and No! If her legacy was great in the modern church I would not have titled my presentation “Huldah Who? The Forgotten Story of a Female Prophet.”

But it has not always been so. She has been an inspiration to both men and women of God through the centuries beginning with our Spirit guided biblical historians. They did not want her forgotten . . . Historians are selective in what they can place in a work and they made sure she was included. That says a lot, I believe. If we had only Kgs we would never even know Jeremiah or Amos existed . . . But we would know of Huldah! She was so significant in Jewish history (she is responsible for the Josiah Reformation!) that her name was splashed on the Temple itself as Herod’s Temple had the prominent Huldah Gate!

The early church recognized her greatness (along with other women of God) in the prayer for the ordination of a deaconess in the Apostolic Constitutions (Fourth Century A.D.):

O eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of Woman, who filled Miriam, Anna, Deborah and Huldah with the Spirit . . . Look upon your servant who is chosen for the ministry and grant her your Holy Spirit.”

Women from our own history like Abigail Roberts, Nancy Towle, Rebecca Miller, Sadie McCoy Crank, and Selina Holman have felt the call to ministry or teach . . . And all appealed to Huldah. Miller for example appealed to Huldah as an example of women serving the Lord in ministry:

“That Huldah, being an approved prophetess of the Lord, was consulted by Josiah, the penitent king of Judah, to whom she sent so thrilling a message from the Lord that it cause all Judah and Jerusalem to tremble and turn to the Lord” (quoted in Brekus, Strangers & Pilgrims, p. 218)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton defended her work on behalf of women’s right to vote by appealing to Huldah. In her mind Huldah was one of the greatest of all God‘s servants:

“The greatest character among the women thus far mentioned (in the OT) is Huldah the prophetess, residing in the college in Jerusalem . . . Her wisdom and insight were well known to Josiah the king; and when the wise men came to him with the ‘Book of the Law,’ to learn what was written therein, Josiah ordered them to take it to Huldah, as neither the wise men nor Josiah himself could interpret its contents . . . We should not have had such a struggle in our day to open the college doors (to women) had the clergy read of the dignity accorded to Huldah. People who talk the most of what the Bible teaches often know the least about its contents.” (quoted in Phipps, p. 15).

Final Thoughts

Huldah is an incredible woman of God. She was called by God to be a prophet. She had a great reputation in ancient Israel. She did in fact exercise authority by the very nature of her ministry. She is the first person to declare a text scripture but she also interpreted and applied it to her day. She stands at the very heart of the Josiah narrative and in fact his reform movement was the result of her prophetic work. But the Chronicler also uses her to articulate one the central motifs of his entire work . . . The theme of mercy given to those who humbly seek the Lord. It says more about ourselves than it does God’s opinion when we filter Huldah out of our consciousness!

One of our own, the incredibly conservative debater C. R. Nichol, wrestled with Huldah in a book written in 1938 called God’s Woman. This is an amazing book. As we close our time together I would like to share some of his conclusions from studying Huldah:

“Sex relationship was the same in the days of Huldah that was in the days of the apostles. Huldah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach a group of men, and she did teach them without violating the law of Jehovah. Though we do not have inspired men and women today, it does not follow that a group of men may not be taught by a man, or a woman. (God’s Woman, p. 30).

I do not have all the answers to the tough questions regarding women, or even, men in God’s church. But I do know this that we need to deal with all of God’s word and we need to deal with it honestly. We need to let Huldah challenge our notions. It is simply not the case that a woman has never exercised authority over men with God’s approval. Huldah did that . . . And much more. Must Huldah remain “Huldah Who?” Can we not be like Josiah and Hilkiah, and learn from her?

Hesed & Shalom,
Bobby Valentine

The Great Huldah Gates to the Temple. Jesus, James, Paul, the early Way
all entered the Temple to worship God through the gates named for the great prophet Huldah.

17 Responses to “Huldah Who? The Forgotten Ministry of a Lady Prophet”

  1. preacherman Says:

    Great post.
    Thank you letting us know about Huldah.
    It is amazing how many times I have read the Old Testament and don’t remember her.
    Thank you for you challenging my thoughts.
    I pray that the church will understand what Paul says, “There is neither male or female…” Male or female for we are all one in christ. Does the church treat women as 2nd class Chrisitans? I hope the church will do God’s will when it comes to women. Huldah would be a good sermon for preachers to preach if it wouldn’t cast them their jobs. I know many preacher stay away from challenging doctrines or issues that are controversial. May God give us the strength and power to preach is word without fear.
    Bobby, thank you so much for you thoughts, insights into the scriptures and introducing me to a new woman prophet Huldah.

    God bless you.
    And thank you for your comments on my blog.
    I appreciate it and love for you stop by and post a comment anytime.
    Hope you have a great week.

  2. Stoogelover Says:

    Very good, Bobby. I seldom miss your posts, and seldom respond. I’ll link this post to one of our former elders who is doing a study through Timothy and tackling the issue of women and leadership. Fortunately, we have a church and a church leadership that is very open to honest study and where it may lead … even if we must slaughter some sacred cows in the process.

  3. Heather Says:

    I have never noticed Huldah before. I have read those passages a bunch of times, but never stopped to notice her. Wow! Thank you for pointing her out.

    I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know that there women out there that love the Lord with all of their hearts and have so much to give to the body of Christ as a whole (not just to the women and children, but to the men as well). I don’t think that God sees male or female. I think that He sees vessels. We are all His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (just my opinion) =)
    I like your blog, by the way! =)

  4. Rene Says:

    I did a study on her about 20 years ago and still find that her ability and actions are ones that I yearn to have found within my own life.

    Fact is that we need more women like her – or maybe they are already there and because they are women they are not heard because of that fact?

    I know one thing for sure and that is that we do need to hear from strong people with a heart towards God without fear.

    Huldah is an example for all of us.

  5. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Preacherman, Greg, Heather and Rene, Thank you so much for contributing to my musings. It continues to amaze how many simply do not even know Huldah’s story, especially in light of the fact that both Kings and Chronicles gives her nearly a chapter. She gets more than most of the kings (only a couple get more ‘space’) and only Elijah and Elisha have more space of the prophets than her. I cannot wait to meet her when I get to heaven.

    Perhaps one reason we ignore her is because she throws a monkey wrench in our pet theory . . . but not only her.

    Stoned-Campbell Disciple

  6. Dee O'Neil Andrews Says:

    Wow! What a neat post on Huldah. I have to admit that I do not recall Huldah at all, but see that I have been very remiss in doing so.

    I especially love your daughter’s take on her and your daughter’s final sentence!

    While I wouldn’t want the name “Huldah” nor have any of my grandaughters (nowadays – my own daughter is Rebecca) named Huldah, she is worth of study and emulation in her strengths for the Lord.


    btw – I tracked you here from Spiritual Oasis. Your blog interests me.

  7. Nick Says:

    Very interesting post. Does Huldah’s example in the old testamnet negate direct scripture in the new? Can we go back to the Old testament and claim David had multiple wives so there is nothing wrong with taking multiple wives?

    Though this is definetely an intriguing piece and a wonderful share on your part and I commend you for it you still haven’t shared what or how that changes:

    “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

  8. Nick Says:

    Well we obviously don’t come to scripture the same way but let me attempt to say a few things and then i will leave the discussion as I really don’t want to get in to a long drawn out debate.

    1. The cultural argument. There is absolutely nothing in the text to justify a cultural argument. Paul goes all the way to the garden for the basis of making the statement. That seems to move it out of all cultural and “time” “place” specific arguments. Though I also realize the cultural argument is the side door to bring in those things we can’t get in the front door.

    Also on the cultural argument why would 1 Timothy 2 be the cultural statement and Huldah the norm? Why wouldn’t 1 Timothy 2 be the norm and Huldah the cultural, time specific place example?

    2. You have a very odd hermentuetic in your response. If I have understood you correctly we are to take a new testament command and reshape it to fit an old testament example? I’m not sure that’s entirely what you are saying but its the best I can make out. You cite 2 timothy 3 yet did Paul mean by 2 Timothy 3 that the covenants were universal and both still applied? If so then all of that covenant would apply would it not? Not just the pieces of our choosing? Can I do the same thing you are doing with 1 Timothy 2 with say Matthew 19? Since Paul went to the garden for his justification on 1 timthoy 2 and Jesus went to the garden for his justifcation on marriage does that mean marriage can be redifend from what Jesus said by claiming it was cultural and going back to the example of David to justify polygamy?

    3. And as to your comment that simply citing scripture doesn’t settle the issue simply writing off a text as cultural because you don’t agree with it falls far short of settling it as well.

    4. If you are wanting to find examples of women teaching men you can find them in the new testament. Auilla and Pricilla teaching Apolos. Eunice and Lois teaching Timothy. However the examples are not of women teaching in assemblies of men but rather private. You don’t have to go to the old testament for female prophetess Philip had daughters who prophesized. But to say they prophesized in any certain fashion is to go beyond scripture. It doesn’t say if they did it in private, or women’s pray meetings or public. To assume any fashion in which it was carried out would be entirely assumption.

    5. I also disagree that just because one is a prophet that they must be a public speaker. David was a prophet called a prophet by scripture yet there is no real example of David playing the role of a public prophet or public speaker. His prophetic statements are found mostly in Psalms and hymns.

    But anyway the original article was a very informative look at the prophetess and I’m sure you will get many supportive responses to your assertion that it clears the path to women teaching and preaching before men. it has become a culturally accepted and promote position you shoud get many great reviews. I wish you well in your endeavors. May God continue to bless all those who seek His knowledge. God bless you neighbor.

  9. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Nick,My response to your question would be multiple. The first one would be – the Hebrew Bible is inspired and authoritative in the shaping of Christian doctrine (2 Tim 3.16). Therefore it must be dealt with and cannot simply, with a magic wand, be made to go away.

    Second, I would argue that, at the very least, the presence of Huldah (and other women leaders) in both the Hebrew Bible and the “New” Testament place limitations on what Paul is saying. What that might point to is something we believe regarding other passages already . . . that is the occasional nature of what Paul says in 1 Timothy.

    Third, I would argue that simply citing 1 Tim 2 (i.e. prooftext it) does not demonstrate Paul’s attitude on the subject. It reveals his attitude toward some women in a certain location at a specific time. But then we have to move into the question of WHY did he say that. I do not think that 1 Tim 2 prohibits a woman from praying and sharing her faith in the assembly. In fact I believe that verses 8 and 9 (separated in the NIV but one sentence in the Greek text) implies that women (as in Corinth) were in fact praying in Ephesus. The word “quiet” does not mean silent at all. The term occurs in this same context in 2.2 where it is translated as “peaceful and quiet” in the NIV. I would ask the one appealing to 1 Tim 2 to ask just what it is that Paul is saying these woman are not to do? Does he say they cannot have authority or does he say they cannot be “domineering?” Paul certainly does not use the “ordinary” word for “authority” in the text but one much stronger and rare (it only occurs in the NT here).I would argue that Huldah must be heard . . . does Paul “contradict” scripture?? I personally don’t think so. That should send us back to the drawing board and ask have we heard Paul aright?? . . . my reply to that is “No.”

    Shalom,Bobby Valentine

  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Nick (number 2), Thanks for coming by my blog. I hope you will return many times in the future. My method of reading Scripture is simply one that attempts to justice to the writer in his or her setting as well as the whole canon.

    I do not think your rejection of the “cultural” argument is quite as solid as you believe. But I used the word “occasional” not “cultural” at anyrate. Even IF you are correct about the Garden claim the question must still be asked “What is it that Paul is forbidding?” I do not think he is forbidding a woman’s voice in the assembly even if he is appealing to the creation.

    Paul commands those woman not to domineer a man. I would counsel serious study on the word authentein that Paul uses. It has been loaded with things Paul does not mean.

    As for Huldah, my point is simply we need to hear all that God has said. God says more about women than 1 Tim 2. And if we see women DOING (with God’s approval) what we THINK Paul forbids then it MAY follow that we have misunderstood Paul.

    I would further argue that the lady prophets in the NT did in fact speak in the assembly and 1 Corinthians proves it. As for the daughters of Philip not addressing the assembly . . . your argument is from silence which carries no weight at all.

    Thanks again for coming by. We can encourage one another.

    Bobby Valentine

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry Bobby, but I read the portions of Scripture with Huldah in it and I don’t “see” the big deal. Maybe I missed some verses somewhere. Did she, in fact, “declare” the book of the Law “Scripture”?

    Furthermore it seems like your reasoning that she gave an “authoritative interpretation” would indicate that such an “authoritative” office would continue today.

  12. CFOURMAY Says:

    I know I am late on this one. I do not know exactly what I do or do not believe about the woman’s role in the church. I do believe that women played a bigger role than they do now. Somewhere in the history of religion all women and many men were shut off from knowing the bible. I do wonder exactly what the woman’s role should be. I do not understand why woman cannot pass the communion trays during the Lord’s supper. What is different about passing it the the pews as to walking down the isle passing it? Another good example is at our church the members fill out an attendence sheet to be picked up during the closing song. Only boys are allowed to pick up the sheets. Why? If the sheets were to be picked up after the closing prayer I am sure that girls would be allowed to pick them up. WHats the difference? There isn’t one to me. I think all studyies on woman in the bible are great and underestimated and under taught. Am I for woman preachers? No I would not be comfortable with that. Am I for woman missionaries teaching the gospel to the unchurched in public? Yes. I think any Christian has the authority to teach the gospel to an unlimited amount of unsaved people simultaneously.

  13. Wiley Says:

    Hi Bobby,

    Good to see you post the “Hulda Class” here for more to be able to read. It was great when you gave it at ACU and I can see some of the improvements.

    Grace to you and peace,
    Wiley Clarkson
    for information on gender equality and the churches of Christ:

  14. Kathy Says:

    Does it matter that Paul is not relaying the intent of God as He created the garden (Genesis 1 and 2) but he is speaking of consequences of the Fall?

    It matters to me.

  15. Leah Says:

    Hi all,

    If you ask many women we are quite frankly tired of all of you (men) debating what our place should be as though you are somehow the authorities. Praise GOD! HE is in charge of this decision…in charge of my heart…in charge of my gifts…in charge of the Spirit he has placed inside of me.

    I think this constant argument may have just revealed why the single gen x an gen y women who were raisned in the c of C are a diminishing demographic being driven to other places of Worship. Our voice is not important because we have neither husband nor right to speak. Therefore with the leading of God off we go looking for another place to use the manifold talents He has placed in His very EQUAL servants.

    Blessings to you all!

  16. Ros Horton Says:

    Just found your blog . . . LOVE your insight and comments. I’ve taught women in the Bible to female prison inmates for a number of years and concluded a long time ago that God will use those who truly love Him and have a heart for Him regardless of gender, despite the status quo opinions to the contrary. LOVED that you used the comment by Dr. Rice too. We used to hear him in college. He was a dear soul, though I think he unknowingly spawned some extremist positions. That’s another topic for another day. 🙂 God Bless and keep up the good study!

  17. Kristen Ridge Says:


    I absolutely loved this article on Huldah. Thank you so much. I’d like to know what this painting is called and who the artist is—it’s beautiful.


  1. Why Choose Huldah? | King Josiah and Prophetess Huldah
  2. Stoned-Campbell Disciple » Blog Archive » Deborah, the Prophet Like Moses

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