Vayelech – It All Depends On Her

24 So it was that when Moses finished writing all the words of the Torah on the scroll through to the end, Moses commanded the Levites the bearers of the ARK of the BRIT [1] of YHWH saying: 26 Take the scroll of this Torah, put it beside the ARK of the BRIT of YHWH, your God, as a witness to you forever.

Deuteronomy 31
PIle of ancient scrolls

If it were to be there forever, how could it be lost? But of course, things do go astray…

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe: this scroll that I found is TORAH scroll, which I found in the house of YHWH; so Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan who read it. … 10 Shaphan the scribe told the king saying: the scroll was given to me by Hilkiah the priest; Shaphan read it to the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the TORAH scroll, he tore his clothing. 12 The king commanded Hilkiah the priest and and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah minister saying: 13 Go, inquire of YHWH for me and for the people and for all of Judah about the words of the scroll that was found…  

II Kings 22

She sits quietly waiting for them to come to her. They will want her answer and she will give it. Some things about this worry her greatly…

It must be done just right, no mistakes, no hesitation – it will all depend on her. The marvelous scroll – words of the greatest prophet – would soon be in her presence. The smell of the parchment and the color of its ink would burn her nose and flair out into her eyes like lightning. The words would thunder off of the scroll of their own accord. No one would be able to deny them – the entire cosmos would be witness!

14 Hilkiah the priest and Ahikam and Achbor and Shaphan and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas – keeper of the wardrobe [2] probably priestly garments – and she resided in Jerusalem, in Mishneh, they spoke to her.

II Kings 22

They hand it to her, and she senses it and then begins to read the ancient scroll.

By Author unknown, photograph by Shai Halevi –, Public Domain,

29 For I knew that after my death that you would be utterly corrupt, straying from the path that I had commanded you; the evil will befall you at the end of days for you did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH, angering him with the work of your hands.

Deuteronomy 31

Words like that cannot bring comfort but maybe there is some chance that they refer to other times, earlier days of evildoing and not to her days. She wonders and grapples with what needs to be faced. She must know if they were to be trusted. 

That such a scroll came to her, Huldah the prophetess, was beyond belief!

She decides to fully endorse the scroll and all its implications. Like Miriam and Devorah – prophets before her – there can be only one road: the path of righteousness. So, cowardliness cannot be felt. For the words are too clear to ignore. That must happen and she would make it so!

Thus did Huldah the Prophetess, aware of the day’s magnitude, feel overwhelmed with her power, proud and haughty though she may have been, she was weighed down by the events she would set in motion. Since she was a true prophetess, like all of the others before her and those to come, it was a task she did not seek and yet one she could not escape.


Let us rise from our seats as we hear Huldah’s words from that fateful day:

17 Since they have abandoned me and burnt incense to other gods, for they have angered me with the work of their hands – my wrath was kindled in this place and not extinguished. 18 Say these things to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of YHWH: so, will you tell him that YHWH – lord of Israel – has said the word you heard. 19 Since your heart was softened and you surrendered before YHWH as you heard what I said about this place and its inhabitants who live there – it will become desolate and cursed – you tore your garments and cried before me, so I also have heard you said YHWH. 20 Thus I will certainly gather you to your ancestors and you will be put in your graves in peace; your eyes will not see all of the evil that I will bring upon this place; so they brought back the message to the king.

II Kings 22

Can we all imagine the gasps of fear and feel the crowd tremble? Hulda has spoken and it will be transmitted to the king. What would she be able to do, sing praises or begin a dirge?

1 Song of ascents: from out of the depths, I call you YHWH, 2 ADONAI [3] meaning: my lord or master hear my voice, may your ears hear my voice pleading for mercy.

Psalm 130

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

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2 probably priestly garments
3 meaning: my lord or master